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East Timor - Youth round-up provokes unrest

South China Morning Post - January 27, 1997

Reuters in Jakarta – Tension has risen in East Timor's capital Dili as Indonesian security officers continue searching for youths suspected of involvement in the killing of a soldier on Christmas Eve, residents said yesterday.

"The youths have become more and more restless because of the continuing search at night," one resident said.

Residents said police and military officers had been rounding up the youths each evening for questioning.

East Timor deputy police chief Lieutenant-Colonel Atok Rismanto said this week police had detained 15 people suspected of involvement in the killing of Corporal Alfredo dos Santos and pledged to arrest more.

Police were not available for comment yesterday.

Residents said there were no reports of further incidents overnight and that Mass in churches in the predominantly Catholic region proceeded smoothly yesterday morning.

Dos Santos was beaten to death near Dili's cathedral on December 24. On the same day, several other police officers and soldiers were attacked by members of the crowd welcoming Nobel Peace Prize laureate Bishop Carlos Belo back to the territory.

The Indonesian military said the dead man, who was wearing civilian clothes, was off-duty and visiting the cathedral as a worshipper on his own accord.

Bishop Belo has apologised for the death of the soldier, a native of East Timor and father of seven.

Indonesian troops invaded the former Portuguese colony in December 1975 and annexed it the following year, making it Indonesia's 27th province. The move was not recognised by the United Nations, which regards Lisbon as the territory's administering power.