Subject: RA: Australian police say rumours a bigger problem than drugs in ETimor

ABC Radio Australia

Australian police say rumours a bigger problem than drugs in ETimor

Last Updated 31/10/2006, 17:16:00

Australian police believe rumour-mongering in the East Timorese capital of Dili is making the work of Australian peacekeepers difficult.

Gang violence in East Timor has resulted in 10 deaths in the last week and youth workers say illicit drugs are causing major problems among the nation's youth.

Commander Steve Lancaster from the Australian Federal Police says he has not seen clear evidence of drugs causing violence.

He says rumours are a bigger problem.

"They're just scurrilous and they're bordering on the bizarre," he said.

"But unfortunately some of the locals, or quite a few of them, do believe it and they're looking for a reason to punch on, but that's just the way it is.

"We just keep focussed and keep our head down and know we've got a job to do."

Australian soldiers have been accused of killing at least two men in recent gang violence - allegations also described as rumour-mongering.

The gang violence that has plagued Dili over the past week follows weeks of fighting between rival security force factions and ethnic gangs in April and May of this year, sparked by the sacking of soldiers, who had deserted their barracks complaining of discrimination.

Foreign troops were deployed to the country to ease the situation.


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