Subject: NTT town returning to normal after fatal clash between Timor refugees, locals

The Jakarta Post

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

NTT town returning to normal after clash leaves one dead

Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang

The situation in Atambua, East Nusa Tenggara, was returning to normal Monday in the wake of a clash between Timor Leste refugees and locals Sunday that left one dead and dozens injured.

Belu regency police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Mulyadi Kaharni said to restore order police had received back-up from two troops from the local military command and two Brimob mobile brigade platoons from the provincial police headquarters in Kupang.

Police have yet to officially disclose the motive behind the clash. "We are still investigating the case," said Mulyadi.

A number of witnesses said the violence was sparked by a misunderstanding during a celebration the previous day.

Mulyadi said Paulino Lopez, 19, who died in the violence, would be taken to Kupang for burial. Scores of others involved in the fight sustained serious injuries from sharp objects and rocks.

"At least seven houses were torched and dozens damaged by rocks," Mulyadi said. adding that he expected people not to be provoked into further violence as the predominantly Christian area was still celebrating Easter.

"Besides that, we will hold a direct leadership election in the next few weeks," he said.

Indonesian border security unit commander First Lt. Dharawan Setyo Nugroho said the situation in Atambua was returning to normal.

"There are still groups of people loitering about, but the police, assisted by the military and Brimob members, are on full alert," he said.

There are at least 10,000 former Timor Leste refugees still languishing in shoddy shelters in Atambua.

They wish to become Indonesian citizens and have refused to return to Timor Leste, their country of origin.


Joyo Indonesia News Service

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