Subject: Indonesian army chief defends shooting of suspected Timor smuggler

Indonesian army chief defends shooting of suspected Timor smuggler

JAKARTA, Oct 28 (AFP) -- Indonesian army chief General Djoko Santoso on Sunday defended the shooting of a suspected smuggler who crossed from East Timor, saying soldiers had followed proper procedures before opening fire.

Soldiers manning the border between Indonesian West Timor and East Timor shot at four men believed to be members of a smuggling gang in the early hours of Friday, the military said. One was killed and the other three escaped.

An investigation showed that the four were East Timorese nationals who had illegally crossed into Indonesian territory.

"The shooting at the border was made after following the prevailing procedures," Santoso told journalists on the sidelines of a ceremony at the Jakarta military headquarters.

"This took place because our patrol met with a smuggling attempt. The procedures were followed, they were warned, they ran, we went after them but they resisted, so shots were fired," Santoso said in a broadcast on Elshinta radio, adding that no action would be taken against the soldiers.

The head of the military command that oversees security at the border, Major General Syaiful Rizal has said the men attacked the soldiers with machetes when they were pursued.

It was unclear what the men were smuggling but the Kompas daily has quoted a border security officer as saying security had been tightened because of reports of planned smuggling of fuel and motorcycles into East Timor.

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