Subject: Peacekeeping chief says East Timor under control

Associated Press January 9, 2000

Peacekeeping chief says East Timor under control

DILI, East Timor (AP) -- After three months of occupation by international peacekeepers, East Timor is now relatively safe and there is no longer a major security threat by pro-Indonesian militias, the incoming leader of the U.N. multinational force said Sunday.

Lt. Gen. Jaime S. de los Santos, who will take over peacekeeping operations next month, said he didn't foresee any big problems.

"The threat from the militias has been diminished," said de los Santos, who was speaking on the last day of his three-day tour of the territory. He added that he was confident his troops would be able to handle any problems in the future.

Australian-led international peacekeepers entered East Timor on September 20 after two weeks of rape, murder and destruction at the hands of Indonesia-backed militias following an overwhelming vote for independence in a U.N.-sponsored plebiscite.

The multinational troops secured East Timor within weeks and except for a few minor firefights near the border with Indonesian-controlled West Timor there has been little violence.

On February 28, Maj. Gen. Peter Cosgrove will officially hand over command of the military operations to de los Santos, a Philippine military officer.

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