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500 Kiosks at Dili's Mercado market burnt by GPK

Suara Pembaruan (abridged) - June 8, 1997

Dili – Four out of six members of GPK from Baucau and Viqueque, Timor Timur, who had been caught to have torched a public market (Old Mercado) in Dili causing 500 kiosks to burn on Saturday (June 6) were successfuly arrested by personnel of Timor Timur's criminal police bureau. At the same time, police also seized a car and a plastic container which had been used to hold petrol for burning the market.

Head of police department in Timor Timur Col Jusuf Muharram on answering questions from 'Pembaruan' through a long distance call Sunday morning said the the four unarmed GPKs were now being interrogated intensively. They were captured after a two-hour chase by security personnel Saturday night. Based on temporary result of investigation, it was learnt that the plan to burn the market was part of a criminal chain which had been plotted to disturb the city of Dili.

Besides burning the old Mercado market, the perpetrators had also planned to burn several government office buildings, especially police stations. By torching the stations, they expected to get weapons which would be used to disturb Timor Timur's region.

Because of it, Col Muharram said, the police would continue to chase the other two suspects in order to clear up the incident. He expected that the two perpetrators could be arrested soon because their identities were already known from the information given by the other four suspects.

Col Muharram explained that the authorities knew that Marcedo market had been purposefully torched after police personnel trying to safe the market were blocked by a group of 40 youths. After the youths were taken aside, it was learnt that the market had been indeed burnt by six men who came from Baucau and Viqueque.

Based on this info, those in charge were instantly looking for the perpetrators while the rest tried to stop the fire which could only be extinguished after the fire brigade came.

From the information supplied by those four already arrested, Muharram expected to break GPK chains still existing in Baucau and Viqueque. He hoped to arrest them one by one in order to maintain safety and security in Timor Timur. He appealed to Timor Timur people to remain calm and not to be swayed by misleading rumors because all GPKs intended to disturb peace would soon be arrested.