Subject: AFP: Tens of thousands attend burial of E Timor shooting victim
Date: Sat, 20 Feb 1999 08:59:22 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo:

*Tens of thousands attend burial of East Timor shooting victim

JAKARTA, Feb 16 (AFP) - Some 50,000 people Tuesday attended the burial of a 25-year-old man shot dead during an incident between pro-independence and pro- Indonesian youths in the East Timorese capital of Dili, a report said.

The mourners marched in procession singing hymns through the streets of Dili, escorting the coffin containing the body of Benedito de Jesus Pires, 25, to the Santa Cruz cemetery.

Pires was found dead with a shot to his temple during the incident on Sunday, the Suara Pembaruan evening daily said.

The procession was peaceful, with participants singing church hymns, although sporadic shouts of "Long live East Timor" and "Long live independence" could also be heard, the report added.

Tens of thousands of other people watched the procession pass from schools, offices and shops which had quickly closed in anticipation of possible violence.

Indonesian security forces were present along the route of the procession but no incidents were reported, the daily said.

The body was buried at Santa Cruz, with a priest from the Dili Roman Catholic diocese officiating.

The circumstances surrounding the death continued to remain confused, and police have pledged to investigate the incident.

Locals have said a group of pro-Indonesian youths had visited a resident's house in Bairropite, a residential district in Dili, and opened fire several times with what appeared to be warning shots. This panicked the villagers who armed themselves with bows and arrows, spears and knives.

When word spread that the youth had been killed, rumors circulated that groups of armed people "from the forest" would attack Bairropite, which is occupied mostly by Indonesian settlers from outside East Timor, Antara said.

Hundreds of youths armed with assorted weapons were standing guard in the neighbourhood, it added.

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.

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