Subject: AFP: Youths attack Dili refugee camp, teargas fired


September 9, 2006. 4:29pm (AEST)

Youths attack Dili refugee camp

Peacekeepers have fired tear gas to stop fighting at a refugee camp in the East Timorese capital of Dili, in the latest unrest to hit the tiny territory.

Eye-witnesses say dozens of youths armed with slingshots and stones have attacked a refugee camp opposite the United Nations headquarters.

"The attack happened at 12.00 with tens of youths," Americo Marcal, a guard at the Obrigado Barracks camp, said.

"They threw stones and used catapults, and then the refugees fought back."

An AFP reporter says around 50 Australian, Malaysian and Portuguese police are trying to stop the brawl between the youths and the camp's inhabitants, who are also armed with rocks and slingshots.

"One canister of tear gas was thrown into the camp," said the reporter.

The reporter says women and children have been evacuated from the barracks to the United Nations headquarters across the road.

A Portuguese policeman, who refused to give his name, has confirmed youths have attacked the refugee camp but says police have yet to arrest anyone for the unrest.

"We haven't arrested anyone from either the group of youths or from the internally displaced people," he said.

East Timor has been plagued by sporadic violence since May, when the desertion of 600 troops sparked civil unrest that left 21 people dead and forced thousands to flee their homes.

Some 3,200 Australian-led peacekeepers have been deployed in Dili since the unrest started.

The United Nations has agreed to send more than 1,600 international police to the impoverished country.

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