Subject: JP: Indonesian Military rejects reports on militia infiltration

January 16, 2004

Indonesian Military rejects reports on militia infiltration

Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara

A senior Indonesian Military (TNI) commander in Kupang denied on Thursday recent reports in several local media that 78 armed pro-Indonesia militiamen have infiltrated Timor Leste (formerly East Timor) and were ready to stir up chaos there after UN troops have pulled out of the neighboring country in May.

"The reports are baseless, as no militiamen have infiltrated Timor Leste. The militia organization does not even exist.

"In the past, the militia were indeed organized by the Prointegration Forces (PPI), but the militia organization has already been disbanded," said Col. Moeswarno Moesanip, chief of Wirasakti Military Command, which oversees East Nusa Tenggara.

A similar comment was also expressed by Florencio Mario Viera, a prointegration figure.

He alleged that the reports were merely part of a media campaign aimed at extending the presence of the UN Peace Keeping Force (UNPKF) in Timor Leste.

"It is a cheap attempt to misinform the world that the situation in Timor Leste is not secure yet, so that the presence of UNPKF troops has to be extended," said Florencio, a former spokesman of Uni Timor Aswain, the now-defunct prointegration organization.

Quoting information from intelligence sources, he said that two big camps were now battling for power. The first was headed by Marie Alkatiri, the prime minister of Timor Leste, who supported the presence of UNPKF. The second was an opposition camp, led by leaders of Timor Leste freedom fighters, who failed to secure positions in the Timor Leste government after Timor Leste separated from Indonesia.

"Apparently, both sides will try to make us a scapegoat if chaos does occur in Timor Leste," he said.

Meanwhile, deputy Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Peter Rowe and senior Australian military officer Col. Ian Ernington visited on Wednesday several refugee camps in Atambua, which borders Timor Leste.

Chief of Belu police precinct Adj. Sr. Comr. Agus Nugroho said that, during the visit, they sought information on the activities of former militiamen in the refugee camps.

It raised suspicions that the Australian government might doubt the security situation in Timor Leste after UN troops were pulled out of the country, he said.

"I have told them that the militia did not exist anymore," said Agus.

The TNI helped establish the militias before Timor Leste separated from Indonesia in 1999; they were aimed at helping the TNI to curb armed resistance in East Timor, led by Xanana Gusmao.

After the independence of Timor Leste in 1999 pro-Indonesia militia and other Timor Leste refugees fled to East Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia, which borders the neighboring country.

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