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Masked men kill East Timorese soldier

Indonesian Observer - January 22, 1999

Jakarta – Four masked men, believed to be members of a pro-independence group, have killed an East Timorese soldier in front of his horrified family members.

Marchal Ximenes (38) and his family were on their way to Osudesima village for a visit on Monday, when the four killers blocked their way and pumped 11 bullets into the hapless soldier, chief of the Wiradarma district military command, Colonel Tono Suratman, disclosed yesterday.

"We regret the brutal killing," he told journalists in Dili, the capital of East Timor. He said the bullets hit Ximenes in the stomach, chest, back and neck, while his body also showed signs of torture. However, the soldier's family was left untouched, he added.

Suratman said the Armed Forces is now trying to identify the killers. "We do not intend to take revenge. However, the murderers must take responsibility for the crime they have committed," he said.

Suratman acknowledged that recent attacks on the province's military personnel are likely to have been conducted by Falintil, the armed division of the Fretilin separatist group.

"Falintil thinks these attacks and murders will intimidate the soldiers. They are misled if they think so," he said, adding the military will continue to uphold its "task" of protecting the East Timorese people.

"Do not ever think that East Timor-born soldiers, who have recently become the target of attacks launched by Falintil, will lose their spirit of protecting the people, because terror will only motivate them all the more to [fight] Falintil, which has been waging a guerrilla war in the forests," Suratman said.