Subject: AFP: Hundreds of UN troops deployed after E. Timor attack

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

Agence France Presse February 25, 2003

Hundreds of UN troops deployed after East Timor attack

DILI - Some 250-300 United Nations peacekeeping troops have been rushed to a border district of East Timor after unidentifed gunmen attacked a minibus there, officials said Tuesday.

One man aged 29 was killed and five injured in the attack on Monday in Maliana district, which borders Indonesian West Timor.

The killing further heightened security fears in the world's newest nation, just six weeks or so after attackers killed five people including independence supporters in two villages 35 kilometres (22 miles) from the border.

The government and UN officials met Monday evening to discuss the attack.

Last month's killings were blamed on anti-independence militiamen based in West Timor, who were seeking to destabilise the new country.

Ricardo Ribeiro, national security adviser to Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, said there were indications militiamen may also have been involved in Monday's attack.

"There are indications because the weapons that they were using were SKS (automatic rifles often used by the militias)," he told AFP.

Three of the injured were seriously hurt.

Brigadier General Justin Kelly, deputy commander of the UN peacekeeping force, said it was too early to say whether they were ex-militiamen entering from Indonesia.

Kelly said 250 to 300 UN troops, mainly from Australia, Fiji and Portugal, were securing the area of the attack, which happened on the main road betwen Dili and the border town of Batugade.

However he said there were no plans at this stage to involve the East Timor Defence Force, which was deployed after last month's killings.

Last week Kelly said anti-independence militiamen had launched a "terrorist strategy" to undermine East Timor's government before the planned UN withdrawal from the country next year.

The Indonesian military commander overseeing West Timor promised tighter security along the border.

East Nusa Tenggara provincial military chief Colonel Muswarno Musanip, quoted by the Jakarta Post, said the military would not allow West Timor to become a base for militia activities.

"We don't want them here and surely don't want to facilitate their activities," Muswarno said.

UN and East Timorese officials have said they do not believe the Indonesian government or its military chiefs are behind the infiltrations.

Local pro-Jakarta militias, armed and organised by the Indonesian military, launched a brutal campaign of intimidation before a UN-organised independence vote in East Timor in August 1999 and a revenge campaign afterwards.

An estimated 1,000 people were killed before Australian peacekeeping troops moved in and the militiamen fled across the border.

East Timor finally achieved independence in May last year after 31 months of United Nations stewardship.


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