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Troops fire shots to disperse students in East Timor

Associated Press - November 14, 1997

Dili – Indonesian troops fired shots into the air to disperse hundreds of students today in East Timor. At least two people were injured in scuffles with authorities, school officials said.

Student activists, who declined to give their names, said two students were killed in the violence outside the University of East Timor in Dili, about 1,250 miles east of Jakarta.

But military spokesman Capt. Triyoga Budi told The Associated Press that troops fired only warning shots and no one was killed.

"If there was any dead then I think there would be an uproar," Triyoga said.

The violence came two days after students held a peaceful candlelight service on the campus to commemorate the massacre of pro-independence protesters by Indonesian troops on Nov. 12, 1991.

Indonesia invaded East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, in 1975 and annexed it a year later. The United Nations does not recognize Indonesia's rule over the territory.

A statement from university officials said a bullet grazed the neck of one student, who was hospitalized along with another whose face was badly beaten.

Witnesses said the crowd of students gathered after an unidentified group chased three men, apparently undercover security officers, along a street near the campus.

A squad of 10 soldiers were deployed outside the campus within minutes. They fired warning shots amid jeers from about 300 students from the college and two nearby high schools.

Col. Slamet Sidabutar, East Timor's military commander, said several people had been arrested after they had mobbed security personnel.