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DFAT warns of further unrest in East Timor

Australian Associated Press - July 16, 2012

The Australian government has updated its travel advice for East Timor, warning of the possibility of further violence following a night of unrest.

While the overall advice level has not changed, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) updated its website on Monday afternoon, saying "post-election political tension may continue". "The situation could deteriorate with little warning," DFAT said.

Dozens of cars were torched and security personnel fired shots in the air in Dili to disperse crowds and restore order, while there were also reports one man had been killed in an area about 10km from the capital. Police were investigating the cause of the death.

There was also violence in a number of districts outside of the capital. It erupted after the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) party announced at the weekend it would invite two minor parties to join it forming government, returning Xanana Gusmao as prime minister. Mr Gusmao's party fell three seats short of being able to form government in its own right.

The DFAT advice warned that political tension may continue while results were being finalised and the new government formed. "We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in East Timor because of the uncertain security situation and the possibility of civil unrest." The overall advice remains at level two out of four.

East Timor was racked by political violence at its last elections in 2006, leading to the deployment of international forces including about 400 Australian troops. Along with a contingent of just under 1000 United Nations security personnel, they are scheduled to withdraw later this year.