|Subject: RT: More bodies washed ashore after Timor
Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 10:59:58 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo:
More bodies washed ashore after Timor violence
DILI, East Timor, April 24 (Reuters) - East Timorese villagers pulled rotting bodies from the ocean on Saturday after pro-Jakarta militia attacks that killed at least eight people and possibly dozens, church and human rights workers said.
A Dili-based human rights worker told Reuters eight victims had been identified and the final toll from week-long bloodshed that has continued despite a ceasefire could top 100.
He said there was no detailed body count yet because the victims had been killed in several areas around Suai, about 200 km (120 miles) southwest of the capital Dili, in sporadic attacks since Monday.
``The situation in Suai is very, very tense,'' he said. ``About 1,300 refugees have been asked to leave the church because they fear an attack like in Liquisa or Dili,'' he said, referring to earlier attacks this month in which up to 50 may have died.
``Along the sea, they have thrown in bodies and some have washed up up the beach. Some are already smelly, but there also are fresh bodies there.''
Western diplomats say several people have died in the attacks by militia fighting to keep the former Portuguese colony part of Indonesia. The whereabouts of hundreds of refugees who had fled earlier violence around Suai was unknown.
Military and police officials were unavailable for comment on Saturday. But one military official in Dili and a hospital official in Suai said on Friday there had been no deaths.
As tensions increase some pro-independence leaders have reportedly gone into hiding.
Former Jakarta-appointed governor Mario Carrascalao, who has campaigned for an independence vote, appealed for official protection, saying East Timorese mercenaries had been hired to kill him.
Carrascalao said he had received death threats and was taking his family to Portugal for their safety, but would return later to his Jakarta home.
Loyalist militias stepped up their bloody anti-independence campaign after Indonesian President B.J. Habibie reversed a 23-year policy in January and said Jakarta may let East Timor go it alone if it rejected an offer of enhanced autonomy.
A Dili-based human rights group, Yayasan Hak, reported on Friday that at least 40 people had been killed in recent attacks by loyalist militia and the Indonesian military.
The upsurge in violence has provoked world outrage, with several governments publicly stepping up pressure on Jakarta to rein in the militias and restore peace.
The warring factions signed a peace pact on Wednesday, but the militias continue to carry guns, control some roads and effectively seal Dili off each night with roadblocks.
The foreign ministers of Indonesia and Portugal completed an agreement on Friday paving the way the people in East Timor to vote in a U.N.-organised ballot on autonomy in July or early August.
The agreement will be signed on May 5 because the Indonesian government needs time to approve new sections in the accord on security and how the vote will be conducted. If autonomy is rejected, Indonesia has promised to withdraw from the territory.
Japan said on Saturday that it welcomed the accord.
``This is a large step forwards towards peace in East Timor, and we hope to see progress towards a solution of the situation there,'' Japan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
East Timor has been racked by sporadic violence since Indonesia invaded and occupied it in 1975 and annexed it a year later, a move not recognised by most of the world.