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Youth killed by independence supporters

Agence France Presse - February 17, 1999

Jakarta – A teenager died in a violent clash between pro-independence and pro-Indonesian youth groups in the troubled territory of East Timor, the second victim of such clashes there this week, a report said Wednesday.

A pro-Indonesian youth identified as Juanico Gomes, 18, a high school student in Liquica west of the East Timorese capital of Dili, was killed during a clash on Monday with a youth group wanting a referendum on self-determination for East Timor, the Antara news agency said.

"The victim died of stab and slash wounds after being mobbed by tens of pro-referendum youths," East Timor's deputy military chief, Colonel Mujiono was quoted by Antara as saying.

Juanico, Mujiono said, had mustered about 10 of his pro-Indonesian friends to secure the release of another youth, Paulino da Silva, who had allegedly been held captive by pro-referendum youths in Fatubou village in the Liquica district.

The two groups clashed with spears, machetes and arrows and Gomes was fatally wounded during the fight. Da Silva was also wounded and was currently under treatment at the Wira Husada military hospital in Dili some 32 kilometres east of Liquica. Gomes will be buried in Liquica later Wednesday, the agency said.

Gomes died a day after a pro-independence youth, Benedito de Jesus Pires, 25, was shot during a scuffle between pro-independence and pro-Indonesian groups in Dili on Sunday during which Indonesian security personnel intervened.

Pires was found dead with a shot to his temple during the incident on Sunday and tens of thousands of mourners took part in his funeral in Dili on Tuesday. The circumstances surrounding Pires' death continued to remain confused, and police have pledged to investigate the incident.

Pro-independence youths have since accused Indonesian police of firing the fatal shot, while police said the shot could have been fired by anyone. But they pledged to punish any police found to have fired the shot.

Tension between groups for and against integration with Indonesia has increased markedly since Jakarta aired the option of a free East Timor on January 27.