Subject: Militia massing outside Dili, threatening to attack peacekeepers
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 10:59:13 -0400

Militia massing outside Dili, threatening to attack peacekeepers

DILI, East Timor, Sept 23 (AFP) - About 500 pro-Jakarta militias were massing in the town of Liquisa, west of the capital Dili, saying they would mount an attack on foreign peacekeepers, witnesses said Thursday.

"We want war," one of the camouflage-wearing militia said.

The militia were armed with old and home-made guns and wore the signature red berets of the Besi Merah Putih (Red and White Iron) militia.

Liquisa, a known stronghold of the group, is about 35 kilometres (22 miles) outside Dili.

The attack threat came after the UN warned that militias were stepping up their activity, and as the Indonesian armed forces were in the midst of a withdrawal that is expected to be completed by Sunday.

Major S. Ahmad, of an East Javanese territorial battalion preparing to leave Dili, said there would soon be chaos in the territory.

"We will be departing from East Timor soon, maybe today. After today all hell will break loose," he said.

The commander of the Australian-led International Force for East Timor (Interfet) Wednesday warned of a backlash against his troops from the armed gangs that have terrorised East Timor after it voted to break with Indonesia.

"There have been some signs of militia becoming agitated about what I might say would be a return into Dili of a previously displaced population," said Major General Peter Cosgrove.

"In consequence, it would appear that the militia has attempted to step up some activity as a show that all is not yet secure.

"I believe it's just an automatic reaction on the part of these dissident elements to the intervention of a (UN) mandated force."

It was not immediately known whether the militia gathering in Liquisa planned to move into Dili, where most of the peacekeepers are based.

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