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At 8 a.m. this morning, gunshots rang through the town of Manatuto, about one and a half hours drive east of Dili. According to local sources a group, around 10 militia members and at least one soldier of the Kopassusí, Indonesiaís special forces, fired shots, in the center of the town, 150 meters away from the IFET (International Federation for East Timor) observers house.
The armed group then proceeded to the CNRT office (National Council for Timorese Resistance). IFET observers went to the office and found that the windows had been smashed and the walls were damaged by bullets.
Militia members continued to roam the city, shouting to intimidate the population. They stopped again in front of the IFET house. Fearing more violence, 50 local people fled into the IFET observersí compound.
At the time of the attack, members of the CNRT were leaving from the office for a meeting in the forest nearby with the pro-independence armed resistance group, Falentil. Manatuto had been described as a calm in the past. At 9 a.m. this morning, gunshots could still be heard. IFET observers describe the situation as volatile.
IFET members are interviewing the witnesses and have names of four of the militia and one Kopassus soldier.
On August 30, a UN-sponsored vote will decide if East Timor will be a part of Indonesia or if it will be an independent state. Indonesia invaded East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, in 1975, a move not recognized by the UN.
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