Subject: Timor youths go on rampage again

Also AFP defends E Timor unrest handling

Timor youths go on rampage again

From correspondents in Dili

August 19, 2006 08:25pm

Agence France-Presse

YOUTHS burnt several houses to the ground in the East Timorese capital today in the latest outbreak of unrest to hit the strife-torn country, eyewitnesses and international peacekeepers said.

"There were around 50 houses burnt. There was about 1000 people who came from the Comoro market area and Lurumata," Marito, a 46-year-old resident of the Comoro neighbourhood where gang battles raged earlier this year, said. However, a Portuguese policeman who declined to give his name said only a handful of houses had been burnt, saying: "Only four to five houses were burnt this morning, so maybe there were 10 houses burnt since yesterday."

Hundreds of houses in Dili have been unoccupied since May when 150,000 people fled to refugee camps to escape violence which wracked the East Timorese capital.

Infighting among factions in the military and police sparked the violence, which killed at least 21 people and degenerated into ethnic warfare on the streets, prompting the deployment of around 3,200 international peacekeepers.

The ethnic violence pitched youths from East Timor's eastern districts against those from the west.

However, Marito said it wasn't clear today's arson attacks were targeting a particular ethnic group.

Around 70 Malaysian, Australian and Portuguese security forces patrolled the neighbourhoods, searching for armed youths.

A Malaysian police officer said at least two youths, one carrying a traditional long knife, had been detained.

"Two people have been detained - one man was just detained by us, and another man was just detained by Australian police," Sergeant Redzuan said.

Australian police said it was difficult to anticipate such attacks.

"Police can't be guarding every house," Tim Dodd, a spokesman for the Australian police contingent, told AFP.

Today's unrest came one day after the United Nations warned of an upsurge of violence in the refugee camps, causing thousands of refugees to flee the temporary shelters in recent weeks.

However international police defended their decision not to place troops at each of the refugee camps.

"It's not part of the plan, it's never been the case that police and military are positioned at the camps,'' said Dodd.

The UN said it was alarmed by a number of recent violent incidents at the camps.

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August 19, 2006. 8:36pm (AEST)

AFP defends E Timor unrest handling

Australian police serving in East Timor say today's unrest in the capital, in which youths burnt several houses to the ground, was difficult to anticipate.

An East Timor resident says about 1,000 people burnt around 50 houses but a Portuguese policeman says only a handful of houses were lit.

At least two people have been arrested over the violence.

Hundreds of Dili houses have been unoccupied since May, when 150,000 people fled to refugee camps to escape violence that wracked the city.

A spokesman for the Australian police contingent, Tim Dodd, says police cannot be guarding every house.

The unrest came one day after the United Nations warned of an upsurge of violence in the refugee camps, causing thousands of refugees to flee the temporary shelters in recent weeks.

But the Australian Federal Police (AFP) officer has defended the decision by international forces not to place troops at each of the refugee camps.

"It's not part of the plan, it's never been the case that police and military are positioned at the camps," he said.

The UN said it was alarmed by a number of recent violent incidents at the camps.

Infighting among factions in the military and police sparked the violence in May that killed at least 21 people.

It degenerated into ethnic street warfare, prompting the deployment of around 3,200 international peacekeepers, led by Australia.

Australia has 1,300 troops in East Timor.

The ethnic violence pitched youths from East Timor's eastern districts against those from the west.

The United Nations (UN) is expected to send up to 1,600 international police to maintain security in East Timor.

- AFP


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