Subject: Four killed in East Timor gang fight

Associated Press June 19, 2004

Four killed in East Timor gang fight

Two martial arts gangs clashed in East Timor, leaving four dead including a 70-year-old man who tried to break up the brawl, police said Saturday.

The clash started late Tuesday when one gang accused the other of attacking innocent civilians in Urahu village, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) outside the capital Dili, National Police Commissioner Paul Fatima Martins said.

The fight quickly escalated to include hundreds of villagers fighting mostly with sticks and homemade spears as friends and supporters of the gangs joined the fray, Martins said.

Three gang members died in the battle and a 70-year-old villager was killed trying to break up the fight.

Martins said police have arrested two dozen people involved in the brawl and expect to bring them to court Monday.

News of the brawl only reached the capital Friday because of poor communications in the rural areas.

There are dozens of martial arts groups in East Timor, practicing pencak silat which combines elements of kung fu, karate and taekwondo. Groups typically face off in sanctioned competitions but they also were recruited to take part in the violence that preceded the country's independence in May 2001.

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