Subject: RT: U.N. Says Timor Militias Training For More Attacks
Date: Sat, 22 May 1999 10:21:26 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Thursday May 20 12:44 AM ET

U.N. Says Timor Militias Training For More Attacks By Anil Ekmecic

DILI, East Timor (Reuters) - The United Nations said Thursday it had evidence that pro-Jakarta militias in East Timor planned more attacks on civilians and that Indonesia continued to train the armed units despite U.N. protests.

The charge comes despite Indonesia's assurances that it does not support the loyalist militias and its pledge to maintain peace ahead of a U.N.-run August 8 vote on independence.

The U.N.'s spokesman in the territory, David Wimhurst, said in a statement he had found a group of militiamen being trained in the town of Atsabe, around 100 km (60 miles) south of Dili.

A Reuters cameraman travelling with Wimhurst said the militiamen were being trained on an army base by a man in an Indonesian military uniform.

``A militia-training class in the town of Atsabe, not far from Atara, where six people were killed by a branch of the same pro-autonomy militia last Sunday, was under way...when U.N. staff arrived in the town to gather more information about the murders,'' Wimhurst said in a statement received Thursday.

``It (the training) was very disciplined and what it signified is that the militia are actually engaged in a preparation for continued violence.''

The United Nations Monday demanded Jakarta honor its pledge to stem the violence in the territory.

``Words by the Indonesian government are not enough,'' it said. ``Determined action must be taken by the appropriate Indonesian security authorities to curtail the activities of the armed militias, whose members roam the streets of Dili and other towns..at will, shooting citizens and burning homes.''

Violence has escalated since January, when Indonesia suddenly reversed 23 years of opposition and said it may consider independence for the territory if East Timorese rejected its offer of autonomy under Indonesian rule.

Jakarta signed a U.N.-brokered deal with Portugal earlier this month allowing East Timorese to choose between independence and autonomy in a ballot set for August 8.

The militias have killed scores of mainly civilians in an intimidation campaign aimed at keeping East Timor part of Indonesia, whose rule of the former Portuguese colony is not recognized by the United Nations or most of the world community.

``There is terror, intimidation, killing,'' Domingos Soares, a priest in the town of Ermera southwest of Dili, told Reuters. ''All the terror you can imagine.''

He said the military was failing to act.

``The Indonesian military has a responsibility to secure the conditions for the referendum,'' he said. ``But as you can see it is not neutral here.''

Human rights groups and witnesses say the military has sometimes joined militia attacks and on other occasions has stood by and done nothing.

Wimhurst said his attempts to investigate Sunday's attack in Atara village had found conflicting explanations from different army officers.

``The only credible version of events remains the one originally reported, namely that a pro-autonomy militia shot the six people at dawn Sunday,'' he said.

The U.N. also confirmed three soldiers had been killed Sunday in a separate attack by pro-independence guerrillas.

Indonesia invaded the eastern half of Timor island after Portugal abruptly abandoned its colony in 1975.

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