Subject: RT: FOCUS-Pro-Jakarta militiamen riot after rally
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 1999 09:27:56 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

FOCUS-Pro-Jakarta militiamen riot after rally 04:41 a.m. Apr 17, 1999 Eastern

By Supriyatin

DILI, East Timor, April 17 (Reuters) - Hundreds of pro-Jakarta militiamen went on a rampage in the capital of East Timor on Saturday, injuring scores of people and torching several vehicles and houses, witnesses said.

Some 400 pro-jakarta militiamen opened fire on the houses of pro-independence activists after staging a mass rally in support of maintaining their increasingly violent homeland's status as part of Indonesia.

A local journalist at the scene said scores of people were injured by gunshots, and there were unconfirmed reports that one person had been shot dead.

The militiamen also set ablaze several shops in Becora region, on the outskirts of East Timor's capital Dili, church officials said. Police and military in the area were not available for immediate comment.

Earlier on Saturday, more than 1,000 militiamen brandishing machetes and rifles rallied in Dili and vowed to continue their fight to keep East Timor as part of Indonesia.

``We must fight to keep the integration of East Timor into the Republic of Indonesia,'' militia commander Joao Da Silva Tavares told the crowd outside the Jakarta-appointed governor's office.

Many of the militiamen wore headbands in red and white -- the colours of the Indonesian flag.

Indonesian loyalists have stepped up their campaign of attacks and public rallies as Indonesia and Portugal discuss an East Timor ballot on whether the former Portuguese colony wants independence or more autonomy within Indonesia.

Guerrillas fighting for independence have also stepped up their activities, with several attacks in the past few days after months of silence.

At least three people died on Friday in fighting between guerrillas and Indonesian troops in Manatuto district, 175 km (110 miles), west of Dili.

Detained guerrilla leader Xanana Gusmao has called on his supporters to take up arms in the face of increased action by the pro-Jakarta militias.

But his call has also sparked fears that United Nations-brokered efforts by Jakarta and Lisbon to thrash out a peaceful solution to the East Timor problem could fail.

Foreign ministers from the two countries were due to meet in New York next week. They were expected to strike an agreement on holding a vote to give East Timorese a choice between autonomy or independence.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed it the following year in a move not recognised by the United Nations.

More than 200,000 East Timorese -- about a quarter of the population -- have died of fighting, starvation and disease since the annexation.

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