Subject: Indonesian military ends hunt for E.Timorese rebels
Date: Sun, 22 Nov 1998 07:49:46 GMT
Indonesian military ends hunt for East Timorese rebels
[The army's version! TAPOL]
JAKARTA, Nov 21 (AFP) - The Indonesian military said Saturday it has stopped an operation to hunt down rebels who attacked a post in East Timor, killing three soldiers and kidnapping 13, the state-run Antara news agency reported.
The head of the military command in the troubled territory, Colonel Tono Suratman, said the situation in Alas was returning to normal and that two battalions of troops deployed for the operation have been withdrawn.
On November 9, Alas was the scene of an attack by some 50 rebels against a military post. Three soldiers were killed in the attack, 13 were kidnapped and firearms and ammunition were stolen.
Eleven of the kidnapped troops were either freed or escaped the day after they were abducted by the rebels. Two soldiers, both East Timorese, remained with the captors.
After the attack, Indonesian military authorities in East Timor pledged to free the captured soldiers and hunt down their captors, raiding villages where rebels were believed have have sought refuge.
The head of general staff affairs of the East Timor military command, Lieutenant Colonel Supadi, said Wednesday four rebels had been arrested during the search, and two died trying to escape arrest.
Commenting on the operations in the Alas villages, Supadi said they were meant to hunt down rebels who had attacked the military post.
He denied charges by resistance groups that troops had burned down villagers' houses, saying they had no reason to do so and that the search was "of a persuasive nature."
The East Timor National Resistance Council accused the Indonesian military of murder, torture, abduction and terror during the anti-rebel operations.
It also accused soldiers of torturing and killing a tribal chief and four youths and added that five others had since gone missing.
Meanwhile, the 1996 Nobel Peace prize winner, Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, met Suratman in the East Timorese capital of Dili Saturday and called on the armed forces and resistance groups to end violence.
"We should lay down our arms and start holding dialogues. The church condemns violence. If (we) wish to live in peace, dialogue is the best way (to achieve this)," Belo was quoted by Antara as saying.
Suratman said the International Committee for the Red Cross has promised to help release the two soldiers still held by the rebels.
East Timor was annexed by Indonesia in 1976 but an armed pro-independence movement has opposed the Indonesian presence there ever since.
The United Nations and most states continue to see Lisbon as the official adminstrator of the territory.
TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign 111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey CR7 8HW, UK Phone: 0181 771-2904 Fax: 0181 653-0322 email: firstname.lastname@example.org Campaigning to expose human rights violations in Indonesia, East Timor, West Papua and Aceh