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45 still held after protests

Agence France Presse - March 26, 1997

Jakarta – Forty-five people remained in detention in the East Timor capital on Monday, a day after a violent demonstration outside the hotel where a United Nations special envoy is staying for a key visit.

Residents said Dili appeared calm but the area around the downtown hotel where UN envoy Jamsheed Marker was staying remained heavily guarded by police.

Mr Marker on Monday met the troubled former Portuguese colony's two Roman Catholic bishops, Nobel laureate Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo in Dili and Bishop Basilio Do Nascimento in Baucau.

Forty-eight people were detained after clashes early on Sunday between demonstrators and police. The demonstrators had demanded to meet the UN envoy.

"Three of the 48 people arrested have been released because of insufficient evidence," East Timor deputy police chief Colonel Atok Rismanto said.

Colonel Rismanto denied reports of fatalities in the demonstrations, but admitted that warning shots were fired in the air to disband demonstrators.

He said 11 people were hospitalised with injuries suffered in the clashes.

Sources in Dili had spoken of two deaths, including a student, but they had seen neither the shooting nor bodies.

They said 38 demonstrators were injured, some with broken arms or legs, and they were treated at a local clinic.

Mr Marker, recently appointed as personal envoy of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for East Timor, arrived in Dili on Saturday for his first visit to the territory which was annexed by Indonesia in 1976.

He left Dili on Monday on a flight for Denpasar, Bali, an official of Dili's Comoro airport said.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas said Mr Marker would leave Indonesia on 30 March.

The UN and most of the international community still regard Lisbon as the territory's administrator. Mr Marker said on Sunday he was trying "to ascertain all the facts".