Subject: Indonesia General Denies Troops Training Timor Militiamen

Associated Press April 11, 2000

Indonesia General Denies Troops Training Timor Militiamen

DILI, East Timor (AP)--On his first visit to East Timor since leading the withdrawal of Indonesian forces, Maj. Gen. Kiki Syahnakri denied Tuesday that his troops were training militiamen to return to the former Indonesian province.

"I would like to say categorically that the training of (militiamen) does not exist," Syahnakri said.

The general, who now commands a military district that includes the western half of Timor island, was in the East Timorese capital to sign an accord on cooperation between the Indonesian military and the U.N. peacekeeping force.

Indonesian troops and their militia auxiliaries in East Timor went on a bloody rampage following a U.N.-sponsored independence vote last August. The violence, in which most of the half-island province was devastated, ended after the arrival of international peacekeepers Sept. 20.

At the time, Syahnakri assumed command of the retreating Indonesian troops and withdrew them and their militia allies to West Timor.

Since then, there has been a spate of border incidents involving incursions by small gangs of heavily armed militiamen into East Timor. The U.N., which is administering East Timor in its transition to independence, has repeatedly urged Indonesia to clamp down on the militias.

Speaking to reporters, Syahnakri acknowledged the existence in West Timor of clandestine bands of pro-integration extremists. But he said the Indonesian government didn't support the use of violence by these groups.

He said he had proposed to open Atambua, the border town in West Timor where the training is allegedly taking place, to U.N. liaison officers. Syahnakri said he also had recommended the establishment of joint border posts and patrols in order to prevent further incursions.

U.N. negotiator Peter Galbraith said Syahnakri's recommendations weren't acceptable because "the problem is not a problem with the Indonesian army, not a problem with the border, the problem is infiltration from inside West Timor to inside East Timor."

Syahnakri also complained that the peacekeepers were crossing into West Timor.

"We have noted with concern that for the last week there has been events where both aircraft as well as land forces of (the U.N.) have either touched or crossed the border," he said.

Galbraith apologized for two unintentional helicopter overflights of Indonesian territory.

But he said: "Illegal infiltration across the border for the purposes of killing and the two illegal crossings by helicopter should not be judged in the same way."

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