Subject: AGE: Digger shot at Timor man

Digger shot at Timor man

Lindsay Murdoch

October 25, 2006 - 3:33PM

An Australian soldier stationed in East Timor today shot at an armed man near Dili International Airport, the Defence Force has confirmed.

The soldier fired shots at a Timorese man in self defence after he approached in a threatening manner, an ADF spokesman said.

"Initial reports are that a Timor-Leste national approached an ADF position with a firearm and acted in a threatening manner," the statement reads.

"His actions led to an ADF member firing a number of shots in self defence.

"The man then fled the scene and it can not be confirmed whether he was injured in the incident.

"This incident will be investigated."

No further comment would be made until the investigation was complete, the spokesman said.

A Dili medical clinic has confirmed that a Timorese man, believed to be in his early 20s, was today brought to the clinic. The man, who suffered a bullet wound to the head, had died, the clinic said.

The man's body has been taken to Dili general hospital for a post-mortem.

Airport closed

Aviation and hospital officials in East Timor reported that a man was shot to death during clashes between rival gangs near the airport, forcing its closure.

Assis Hendrique da Silva, 25, was shot in the head by unknown gunmen near the airport this morning, his father, Evaresto Hendrique de Silva, 54, told the Associated Press.

"The airport has been totally closed due to security reasons," said Romaldo da Silva, director of East Timor's Civil Aviation Authority.

"There was no security for my staff this morning and I therefore decided to close temporarily until we feel secure enough to reopen it."

The shooting was part of escalating violence in recent days in which four people have been killed and 47 wounded, said Antonio Caleres, director of the Dili National Hospital.

Violent clashes

Reuters is reporting that two people have been killed and that 12 houses were burned in fighting between youth gangs armed with guns, bows and arrows and rocks, according to police and local residents.

The first clash happened late yesterday on a main road leading to the airport with one person killed by gunfire. Another clash broke out early today, killing another resident.

Security forces had closed the road.

"There were provocateurs in the road that leads to the airport. They burned tyres and blocked the road," Nelson, who lives near the area and did not give a second name, told Reuters.

An Australian police officer said many shots were fired during the clashes.

Another man was shot and killed last night and seven were injured in clashes between rival gangs in the Comoro neighbourhood, Caleres said.

The unrest began on Sunday following the release of a UN report on October 17 into the violence that wracked the tiny nation earlier this year.

A special commission largely blamed the government of former prime minister Mari Alkatiri for a wave of killings and arson in April and May that left 33 dead and forced 155,000 people into overcrowded displacement camps.

theage.com.au, with David Braithwaite and agencies


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