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UN troops could go to Timor in March

Kompas - February 27, 1999 (abridged)

Special UN troops are likely to be sent to East Timor in March to disarm pro-integration and anti-integration civilian groups. It is evident that as long as arms are in the hands of civilan groups, shooting and killings will continue.

This was stated by the Indonesian chief of police Drs Silaen, quoting remarks made by Tamrat Samuel, a special UN envoy representing Jamsheed Marker, just before his departure from Dili.

Silaen went on to say that the police in East Timor would assist the UN troops in disarming the civilian groups. All ABRI forces are likely to be withdrawn from the territory with the exception of the police and Kamra (so-called people's security forces).

The armed groups likely to be monitored include Mahidi, Aitarak and Gardapaksi [all para-militaries], as well as Falintil.

Conditions in Dili continue to be extremely tense on Thursday. Every five metres along the main roads, pro-independence youths were blocking all the roads, armed with rocks, barbed wire, crowbars and sticks. They stayed out in force throughout the night. They burnt tires in Audian, East Dili. Government employees and schoolchildren were unable to reach their offices and schools the next morning because of the groups of young people along the roads.

There were sounds of gunfire from the security forces early in the morning but there were no casualties. They were believed to be warning shots to get the young people to leave. During the past two days, at least four pro-independence youngsters have been shot dead and member of the armed forces was beaten up.

On Wednesday, a schoolboy aged 18, Francisco da Conceicao de Ornay, was shot dead outside his home at 3.30pm while a student named Joaqim de Jesus, 24, died at midnight after being treated for several hours at a private clinic. The third victim was named as Sergeant Mario who was beaten to death by pro-independence youths.

The deputy military commander Colonel Mudjono said that a soldier, Sergeant Dominggos Berek, was beaten up by pro-independence youths as he was leaving a friend's house.

After this happened, a large crowd of youths quickly gathered. They moved in the direction of a truck that was passing by. Two of the youths jumped onto the moving truck and tried to force the people in the truck to hand over their weapons. As the truck passed a local army post, several people jumped out and fled into the army post.

Soldiers rushed to the place where the incident had occurred but they were surrounded by youths armed with a vareity of implements. The troops fired into the air but the youths refused to retreat. Someone in the crowd who was holding an M-16 fired it in the direction of the troops. Then a shot rang out and Francisco fell to the ground.

Sergeant Mario da Costa tried to help the troops break through the crowd and ran to the barracks of Company B. He was chased by the crowd and killed later that night.

[On February 26, the Portuguese news agency Lusa reported that a score of Australian citizens, including an 11-person humanitarian aid team, departed East Timor on February 25 for security reasons, following threats by pro-Indonesia paramilitary groups. The Australian embassy in Jakarta ordered the aid workers to leave and advised its nationals to avoid travel to East Timor. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told journalists on the same day he had also received threats against Australians - James Balowski.]