Subject: Militia grenade blast wounds seven in Timor border area

Militia grenade blast wounds seven in Timor border area

DILI, East Timor, Dec 22 (AFP) - Seven people were wounded after a suspected member of a pro-Indonesian militia threw a hand grenade in the border area between East and West Timor, a spokesman for the international peace force here said.

Colonel Mark Kelly said that the grenade blast took place in Indonesian-controlled West Timor across the border from the East Timorese border village of Nemo on Monday.

Kelly said people in a market got involved in an argument. People there identified one of the persons involved in the dispute as being a suspected members of the militia.

"As people started to chase this individual further into West Timor, to facilitiate his escape, he threw a grenade. The grenate exploded and wounded seven cilvilians" Kelly said.

The wounded were brought back to East Timor by other civilians, Kelly said.

He said that several UN military observers witnessed the attack and so did "some TNI (Indonesian armed forces) who came to the area as the dispute started to build."

Kelly said that the Indonesian soldiers fired two shots into the air to disperse the crowd after the handgrenade had been thrown.

After the victims had been brought across the border, they received assistance from the international peacekeeping troops.

Three of the victims were treated briefly in Maliana before they were released the same day while four of the victims were flown to Dili, the main town in East Timor, later the same day.

Kelly could not give details about the four victims but said that they only suffered from "minor wounds."

The head of the multinational peacekeeping forces, major General Peter Cosgrove has written to Indonesia military commanders expressing concern at the security situation in the border area.

Pro-Indonesia militias were the main perpetrators of the killing and destruction which erupted in East Timor after the territory's voted for independence was announced in September.

Most of their fighters have since moved across the border into West Timor and the head of an umbrella organisation grouping the various militias last week called on them to disband. Aid workers however say they remain active.


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