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One Timorese rebel killed in anniversary attack

Reuters - July 18, 1997

Jakarta – One East Timorese rebel resisting Indonesia's rule in the former Portuguese colony has been killed in an attack on the 21st anniversary of the territory's annexation, the official Antara news agency reported on Friday.

The report quoted the East Timor military commander, Colonel Slamat Sidabutar, as saying the rebel had been killed on Thursday night in Kalilako district, 138 km (86 miles) south of the capital Dili.

"About 20 armed rebels made an effort to enter the town, however they failed because the community and the Indonesian armed forces (ABRI) who were on guard at a post had already anticipated things which might occur on the integration day," he said.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in December 1975 and unilaterally annexed it on July 17, 1976 in an act not recognised by the United Nations which still regards the territory as being administered by Portugal.

A small band of armed rebels, perhaps numbering only a few hundred, still resist Jakarta's rule in the rugged hills of the eastern half of Timor island, while a clandestine movement operates in urban areas.

Sidabutar said rebels wanted to launch attacks on such anniversaries to show they still existed.

He identified the dead rebel as Mauleki, 50. Soldiers seized a rifle, 43 bullets, a grenade and a small amount of money.

The other attackers fled into the forest.

Since the eve of Indonesia's election on May 25 at least 38 people have died, including 16 policemen and one soldier in a single ambush, in an upsurge of violence in East Timor.