Subject: AKI: Deadly ethnic clashes terrorize residents


Dili, 26 Oct. (AKI) - Residents of a village involved in ethnic fighting in East Timor, talk of fear, as the death toll has mounted since the latest outbreak of violence on Tuesday. Two recent victims of the violence have been identified as Joao Justinho Aboku and Virginio, both residents of Fatuhada village, in the outskirt of Dili. Aboku was the village's leader. Four people have been killed and 47 injured in clashes over the past week,Dili National Hospital director, Antonio Caleres said on Wednesday.

Justina Sanches, 24, a Fatuhada' housewife, said that the killers were 'lorosae,' as the ethnic group present mostly in the east of the country is called. Lorosae accuse those from the west - known as 'loromonu' - of having collaborated with Indonesia during its 24-year occupation of the country.

"I know they were killed by easterners with semi automatic rifles. I can see it in their wounds," she told Adnkronos International (AKI) on Thursday.

Another Fatuhada resident, Pedro da Costa Malpelo, 38, said that the village was attacked by roughly one hundred easterners, and that he was forced to flee his home.

"It was confirmed that my village chief was killed. I was advised by my family and neighbours not to return home because the situation is terribly dangerous," Maupelo told AKI.

Malpelo is not the only one to have fled his home. Juliao Torquel, 27, late on Wednesday fled with his wife and three children and they are currently being sheltered at a Salesian Catholic convent near Dili International Airport.

Reuters reported the airport re-opened on Thursday, two days after it was closed following deadly clashes between groups of youths armed with guns, rocks and bows and arrows.

"I am here with my family because my village was attack by more than one hundred eastern people," he told AKI. "It is like a nightmare, fighting amongst us East Timorese" he added.

The latest violence broke out when two men from the east were killed on Monday.

According to some analysts, the fresh violence is linked to the publication of a UN report last week that blamed former prime minister Mari Alkatiri's government for much of this year's civil unrest. The unrest left 37 people dead, forced 155,000 to flee their homes and brought down Alkatiri's government.

Among other things, the UN report said that two members of Alkatiri's cabinet - former interior minister Rogerio Lobato and former defence minister Roque Rodrigues - had contributed to the violence by illegally distributing weapons to civilians.

The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank that reports on conflicts, earlier this month warned that the publication of the report - which called for further investigations against high-ranking Timor officials - could spark further unrest in East Timor.

East Timor's division along ethnic and geographic lines was identified as one of the main causes of the riots which erupted in May. These started when a group of 600 soldiers, mostly loromonu, were sacked by Alkatiri, following a strike. They had complained of being discriminated against by the mostly lorosae officers.

The 800,000 inhabitants of the tiny southeast Asian country voted for independence in 1999 and gained this in May 2002.


Oct-26-06 10:49

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