Subject: E Timorese Taking Revenge On Suspected Militia Members

Associated Press November 17, 1999

East Timorese Taking Revenge On Suspected Militia Members

DILI, East Timor (AP)--Militia thugs who terrorized East Timorese civilians are finding out what it's like to be beaten and intimidated, a U.N. spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Many East Timorese, forced to flee at gunpoint when Indonesians troops and militiamen went on a rampage after the territory's Aug. 30 vote for independence from Indonesia, have returned home and are seeking revenge, Ariane Quentier said.

"It's not a major problem, but it does happen more and more," said the spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

She described an attack at a transit center in Dili Monday, when peacekeepers rescued three suspected militiamen from a mob.

The paramilitaries and Indonesian troops forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee to Indonesian-controlled West Timor during weeks of violence. There are still about 200,000 East Timorese in refugee camps there.

But militia activity inside East Timor has all but ceased, said Australian Maj. Gen. Peter Cosgrove, leader of the international peacekeeping force sent in to stop the bloodshed.

When people are harassed by crowds for suspected militia involvement, his peacekeepers will remove them "and try to disperse the crowd and give them guarantees that whatever the issue is, we will look into it," he said.

Suspects will be investigated, and detained if there is convincing evidence of wrongdoing.

U.N. civilian police will be taking over law enforcement from troops, with U.N. preparations to set up a justice system a high-priority effort, he said.

Eighteen suspects are in detention, including several who confessed to murder.


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