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Gangs take control of Dili streets at night

East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin - July 6, 2013

Martial arts gang have virtually taken control of the streets during the night in several parts of Dili and District locations, causing havoc and unrest, with police proving a little barrier according to civil rights organizations.

According to a report by Jornal Independente on 5 July 2013, martial arts activity is not new in Timor-Leste, but it is expanding at a rapid pace, as the martial arts leaders remain free to recruit and train their members.

The increase in activity comes as police struggle [to] contain raising tension and violence amongst martial art groups members in Dili and Baucau in relation for the killing student, Fernando de Sousa in Malang recently. It is understood anger about the death has sparked tension between youth in martial arts gangs.

Meanwhile, Suara Timor Lorosae reports that the government is to continue suspending martial arts' activities

In regard to martial arts violence that has again occurred in the community recently, the Timorese National Police (PNTL) Command has ordered each PNTL District Command to monitor martial arts activities.

PNTL National Operational Commander, Armando Monteiro, is reported to have said that the Government had suspended martial arts activities since December, 2012 and the Government continued the suspension this year.

"The Government's resolution suspends martial arts activities, such as training and other movements, therefore, PNTL plays its role to monitor the martial arts activities during the suspension time," Armando told journalists at PNTL Headquarters in Caicoli of Dili on Thursday 4.