Subject: SMH: Military 'to act on weapons'
Date: Sat, 15 May 1999 11:23:40 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Sydney Morning Herald 14/05/99

EAST TIMOR

Military 'to act on weapons'

Dili: The Indonesian military is preparing to crack down on traditional weapons held by pro-Indonesian militias, the province's senior military commander in East Timor, Colonel Tono Suratman, said.

Speaking late on Wednesday after an inter-faith prayer service for peace in East Timor, Colonel Suratman told reporters the army and police would visit Liquica to confiscate traditional weapons held by militiamen.

The trip, planned for yesterday, was later postponed because of a religious holiday, an army spokesman said.

In an apparent hardening army stance against militia weapons, Colonel Suratman said on Wednesday: "Tomorrow I'm going to Liquica with [police chief] Colonel Timbul [Silaen] and I'll tell them [militias] - give me your traditional weapons or we'll collect them."

Human rights groups and independent observers blame pro-Indonesian militia groups for widespread intimidation and violence in East Timor leading up to the United Nations-organised ballot on self-determination, scheduled for August 8. In another sign the military is trying to improve its image on East Timor, Colonel Suratman said the army was responsible for organising Wednesday's "Collective Prayers for Peace".

During the hour-long ecumenical service, attended by more than 500 people, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Bishop Carlos Belo appealed to the territory's political leaders - both for and against independence - to start behaving peacefully.

- Mark Dodd

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