Subject: Six Militiamen Arrested In E Timor; Peacekeeper Attacked

Also: Australians fire on militia

Associated Press March 20, 2000

Six Militiamen Arrested In E Timor; Peacekeeper Attacked

DILI, East Timor (AP)--Peacekeepers arrested six suspected militiamen and charged them with murder in East Timor after they entered the territory from Indonesia, U.N. officials said Monday.

U.N. peacekeeping spokesman Lt. Col. Brynar Nymo said the men were arrested over the weekend and are believed to have murdered people during the violence that erupted after the announcement of the overwhelming vote for independence in a U.N.-sponsored plebiscite last August.

"Those who are guilty of serious crimes will be found and will face justice," he said.

Nymo said five of the men were arrested after they crossed the border between Indonesian-controlled West Timor and East Timor.

The sixth man was part of a group of refugees being transported by the U.N. back to their homes in East Timor. He was identified by local residents who then told U.N. peacekeepers of his alleged crimes.

Meanwhile, a Jordanian U.N. peacekeeper was attacked and injured in the territory's capital Dili over the weekend.

The officer was beaten and stabbed by two unknown assailants before he scared off his attackers by firing into the air.

Nymo said the attackers called out "Jordan" before the assault, but it wasn't clear what prompted the incident.

But he denied the attack had anything to do with anti-Jordanian sentiment in the East Timorese community.

The Jordanian military is seen as having close links with Indonesia's armed forces.

Sydney Morning Herald 25/03/00

Australians fire on militia

Dili: Australian peacekeepers based along East Timor's tense western border with Indonesia have fired at a patrol of pro-Jakarta militia, their first hostile engagement as members of the United Nations force that took over from Interfet last month.

The incident, near the old fortress town of Balibo on Thursday afternoon, came amid heightened fears by the UN of increased militia violence in East Timor.

The UN headquarters spokesman for Sector West, Captain Dan Hurren, said: "Our analysis of militia operations so far is that they are cyclic. We are coming out of a low period and expect an increase in the level of militia operations in coming weeks."

The latest shooting had involved a confrontation between a patrol from 5/7 Royal Australian Regiment and three armed militiamen 300 metres inside East Timor, six kilometres east of the town.

"The lead scout came across the lead militiaman," Captain Hurren said. "He had his weapon aimed at the Australian patrol so the [Australian] scout fired three shots while his section behind him moved into position."

The shots apparently missed, and all three militia fled back across the border. An army helicopter was radioed for, but the militia were inside Indonesia by the time it arrived.

"We have no indication any of the militia were wounded."

All three militia were armed with military-style assault weapons, he said, and he speculated they might have been probing an Australian defensive position about a kilometre from the border.

Mark Dodd

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