Subject: ABC report of Maliana attack in full
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999 16:41:25 -0400
From: (TAPOL)

X-URL abc asia pacific (This programme was broadcast on Wednesday 30 June 1999)


First to East Timor, where Indonesian police sources have confirmed that at least two serving Indonesian soldiers and three retired military personnel were involved in yesterday's attack on a United Nation's post in the town of Maliana.

The police are responsible for protecting the UN and maintaining law and order in East Timor - but the involvement of military personnel in yesterday's mob attack raises serious questions about the security of UN staff - and the entire UN mission to hold a free and fair ballot on the territory's future in August.

Di Martin witnessed yesterday's attack and filed this extended report.

MARTIN: Senior Indonesian officals have spent today trying to hose down the seriousness of the assult in Maliana saying it was just a local brawl. But it was far more than that.


At first a group of about 40 independent supporters directly out side the UN post started chanting "Viva independence - Viva Xanana Gusmao." A crowd of about 200 armed militia is gathered on a sports field across the road responded with their own chants moments before beginning their assault.

While independent supporters fled immediately the stones kept flying aimed directly at the UN post. There is no doubt of the militia intent to target the UN. A second volley of rocks came well after the front of the office was cleared of any East Timorese, and scores of stones were lobbed over the 4 metre fence.

The missiles shattered windows, damaged the front offices, and a UN car. 9 people were hurt in the attack, 7 local Timorese suffered the worst injuries, and an ABC camera operator and a UN electoral officer also sustained cuts and bruses. The head of the UN mission in East Timor Ian Martin says the electoral officer has returned to the capital Dili with 2 other UN staff after an event he described as extremely frightening.

IAN MARTIN: She and other UN staff there were very seriously shocked by what was an extremely frightening event. And I'm sorry to see it described by the spokesman for the Indonesian Task Force as a brawl, because that is an enormous understatement of the nature of this attack.

MARTIN: What makes this situation even more frightening for the UN is the Indonesian military presence amongst the attackers. Police sources identified at least two serving soldiers and another three retired military in the militia group. They say the army in Maliana are not only directly involved in militia activity, but are arming, funding, training and feeding local pro-integration groups. This information is backed up by a source close to the army, who identified one serving soldier in the assault on the UN. And independent supporters also say they recognise military figures in the crowd. The army in Maliana district far outnumber the 300 police charged with protecting the local UN post which is why militia were allowed to simply walk away yesterday after holding UN staff at bay for 3 hours. Police sources say if they arrested the militia the army would retaliate. Police have reason to by worried. Two months ago the military launched a direct attack on Maliana police headquarters, the culmination of an escalating land dispute between a soldier and police officer. While shots were fired into the compound no one was injured. But sources say the police commander Budi Sassilo was physically assaulted. The army clearly doesn't want East Timor to be independent. As one retired general put it the military is indoctrinated with the need to hold on to the territory at all costs, leaving commander Sassilo in an extremely difficult position, trying to negotiate a delicately balanced relationship between security forces to ensure the UN safety. But that still doesn't explain why police didn't detect the threat and have enough officers able to respond. The afternoon before the assault I was given this information by a Maliana resident to scared to give his name, who press ganged into a meeting of the local militia called Doduras Meraputi, held outside the UN post.

PERSON: The came in front of the United Nations place. He hear the leader of Doduras Meraputi speak to him and the others. They want to attack the United Nations office and they want to put down the United Nations flag.

MARTIN: This was Maliana police commander Budi Sassilo reply, when informed of the threat later that day.

SASSILO: No I don't see it a possibility and I will try my best to guarantee the security of the UN personnel.

MARTIN: After the attack the commander's Dili based superior police Lieutenant Colonel Endradi Tanos had a slightly different position.

TANOS: We are really very very upset with the situation.

MARTIN: Why did the police not prevent this from happening?

TANOS: The people, they suddenly came to the UN office, we could not prevent with the small number of police officers.

MARTIN: Can you guarantee their safety?

TANOS: We are trying very hard to do this.

MARTIN: The assault has certainly shaken the UN's confidence in the ability of police to hold the militias at bay. Head of the UN mission in East Timor, Ian Martin had this less than definitive reply to a question on whether the police could protect the UN from further attacks.

MARTIN: They have to be able to handle the situtation, that is their clear responsibility under the agreement. (First broadcast 30/6/99)

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