Subject: RT: East Timor finds weapons cache in hunt for rebels

East Timor finds weapons cache in hunt for rebels

27 Feb 2008 10:55:45 GMT

Source: Reuters

DILI, Feb 27 (Reuters) - East Timor security forces have seized a cache of homemade weapons and detained a foreign citizen suspected of helping rebel soldiers involved in this month's attacks on the country's leaders, an official said on Wednesday. Rebel soldiers attacked the home of President Jose Ramos-Horta on Feb. 11, seriously wounding him during a gunfight.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, who escaped unhurt in a separate attack the same morning, ordered the country's military and police forces to form a joint command to arrest followers of rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, who was killed in the attacks.

Filomeno Paixao, head of the Joint Command, said homemade weapons including a grenade, knives and arrows, as well as 500 military uniforms had been found in the house of a foreign citizen near Dili.

"We have brought the man to the investigation unit because he is believed to be helping rebels," Paixao said, without elaborating.

The official said an increasing number of rebel soldiers who had previously supported Reinado had given themselves up in order to have peace talks with authorities.

"The operation is going on in the whole of the territory but you see the sacked group, or petitioners, are coming down to Dili for talks," he said, adding that about 450 sacked soldiers had gathered in a camp in Dili. Arrest warrants have been issued against 17 people suspected of involvement in the attack, including Gastao Salsinha who took command of rebel soldiers after Reinado was killed during the attack on Ramos-Horta.

Slain rebel leader Reinado's lawyer, a 40-year-old woman with dual East Timorese and Australian citizenship, was also arrested in Dili last week in connection with the investigation.

Asia's youngest nation, under a state of emergency since the attacks, has been unable to achieve stability since hard-won independence in 2002.

The army tore apart along regional lines in 2006, when about 600 soldiers were sacked, triggering factional violence that killed 37 people and drove 150,000 from their homes.

Foreign troops were sent to restore order in the former Portuguese colony of about one million people, which gained full independence from Indonesia after a U.N.-sponsored vote in 1999 that was marred by violence.

The U.N. Security Council on Monday extended for another year the mandate for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in East Timor, saying the security and humanitarian situation in the country remained fragile. (Reporting by Tito Belo; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Jerry Norton)

Back to February  menu

December 2007
World Leaders Contact List
Main Postings Menu