Subject: etpost - RT: Indonesia military rejects blame for Dili bloodbath
Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 10:19:11 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo:

Indonesia rejects blame for Dili bloodbath

DILI, East Timor, April 18 (Reuters) - Indonesia's military on Sunday rejected the blame for bloody violence that killed dozens of people in the disputed territory of East Timor, accusing pro-independence groups instead.

The killings sparked international outrage, with most foreign governments blaming Jakarta for failing to control loyalist militia who rampaged through Dili on Saturday attacking pro-independence leaders.

Indonesian media, quoting local police and military officials, reported at least 20 people dead, mainly pro-independence activists and civilians.

The armed forces (ABRI) put the death toll at 12 and blamed the bloodshed on groups seeking independence from Indonesia, which invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and whose rule is not recognised by the United Nations or most of the international community.

``The incident started with a disturbance from the anti-integration side, who blocked a convoy of thousands of pro-integration supporters and opened fire,'' ABRI said in a statement.

``As a result, the convoy panicked and searched for those reponsible. But when they could not find the shooters, they became mad and searched for pro-independence leaders who they blamed for the trouble.''

ABRI said 12 pro-independence supporters were stabbed to death in ensuing battles, adding that several people from both sides were injured.

But witnesses, including a Reuters cameraman and photographer, said the trouble started when Jakarta loyalists went on a rampage, firing at random and seeking out independence leaders after a rally outside the Jakarta-appointed governor's office.

Witnesses said troops were involved in an attack on the house of at least one prominent independence leader, Manuel Carrascalao, whose teenage son was shot dead.

Police and troops stood by as militiamen fired volleys of shots at the rally in a show of force.

Militia leader Eurico Gutteres urged his followers to cleanse the territory of independence supporters.

``Starting today, I command all pro-integration militias to conduct a cleansing of all those who betrated integration. Capture and kill if you need,'' he told the rally.

Dili was calm on Sunday, with markets opening as usual and church services going ahead without incident.

People were out on the streets and there was no sign of militiamen. There were also virtually no police or troops on the streets.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a statement he ``strongly deplores these new acts of violence and regrets the apparent inability of the Indonesian authorities to to control the violence by the militias and protect the civilian population.''

Annan is brokering talks between Jakarta and Lisbon over the fate of the former Portuguese colony.

Foreign ministers from both countries are due to meet in New York from Thursday, but the latest bloodshed casts doubts over their efforts to give East Timorese a ballot to choose between independence and more autonomy within Indonesia.

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