Subject: RT: East Timor violence drives hundreds from homes

Also ABC: Schools damaged in Timor violence

East Timor violence drives hundreds from homes

Fri Aug 10, 2007 4:22AM EDT

By Tito Belo

DILI (Reuters) - About 1,000 East Timorese have fled their homes because of ethnic and political violence triggered by the controversial appointment of a new government this week, police said on Friday.

Gangs torched 200 houses in the eastern district of Viqueque in attacks that lasted until Thursday night, forcing villagers to flee to the mountains, said local police commander Jose de Carvalho.

"Based on our observation, they don't have clean water and food to eat and no government officials are coming," De Carvalho said by telephone.

Foreign troops who were sent to East Timor following bloodshed last year were deployed to the district and dispersed the gangs, Carvalho said.

It was not clear who was responsible for the attacks but ethnic tensions have simmered for decades in the district and political divisions have worsened the conflict.

Breaking a deadlock after parliamentary elections more than a month ago, President Jose Ramos-Horta this week appointed a coalition led by independence hero Xanana Gusmao to govern after no single party won a majority.

Ramos-Horta's decision sparked violent protests by supporters of the former ruling party, Fretilin, which claims the right to govern after winning most votes in the June 30 polls.

It has branded the president's move as unconstitutional and pledged to boycott the new government.

Gusmao was installed as prime minister on Wednesday. He met his cabinet on Friday and an official said they discussed sending humanitarian relief for the victims of violence.

A villager whose house was destroyed in the district's Watulari area appealed for government help, saying that displaced people were facing starvation.

"There are no more houses in Watulari, all burned down. Children and adults fled to the jungle and we are suffering because there is no food and water to sustain us," said Miguel Trindade at the parliament building in the capital, Dili.

Jose Oliveira, an activist at the HAK Foundation, a rights group, urged the new government to restore law and order.

"The government should enforce the law to curb the disturbances in the country. Innocent people have become victims because of their leaders' differences," he said.

Factional bloodshed broke out in the impoverished country of about 1 million people last year, forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes.

The mayhem, during which 37 people were killed, was triggered by the previous government's decision to sack 600 soldiers.


ABC News Online


Schools damaged in Timor violence

By Anne Barker

Posted 2 hours 42 minutes ago Updated 2 hours 33 minutes ago

Schools and education facilities in East Timor have been destroyed or vandalised in the rampant violence that has swept through parts of the country.

The United Nations children's fund UNICEF says one education facility was burnt down and three schools damaged around Baucau in the country's east.

At least three other districts have had similar damage.

All learning programs in Baucau have been suspended, for fear of endangering school children.

In the remote south-east, large numbers of people are fleeing their homes after violent mobs torched houses and threatened villagers.

Many have fled to the mountains, others have gone to Dili, some under UN escort.

One newspaper report puts the number of houses destroyed at about 600.

The UN has confirmed more than 140 but says it is yet to contact many UN police in the east, and that figure is certain to rise.

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