Subject: SMH: Militiamen suspected in border shooting on Saturday

Sydney Morning Herald Monday, July 31, 2000

Militiamen suspected in shooting

Dili: United Nations peacekeepers based along the tense East Timor border are investigating a second shooting in six days as new claims arise that pro-Jakarta militia were responsible, a senior UN official said.

Lieutenant-Colonel Brynjar Nymo, the UN's military spokesman in Dili, said an East Timorese man was in a New Zealand Army hospital in south-west Suai after being shot in the head and chest by men claimed to be militia.

The shooting happened on Saturday near the western border not far from Suai when the victim, one of two men hunting birds, was fired upon by two men, one dressed in camouflage fatigues, Colonel Nymo said. One of the men claimed the attackers were militia, he said, but there had been no confirmation by the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor.

The shooting follows last Monday's shooting death of a 24-year-old New Zealand soldier, Private Leonard Manning, after a gun battle with members of the pro-Jakarta Laksaur militia.

UN military sources later said the militia cut off Private Manning's ears for a bounty payment against New Zealand and Australian soldiers.

A high state of alert is in force along the entire 172-kilometre border with Indonesian West Timor following reports that more militia attacks are expected.

Heavily armed UN soldiers also sealed off the town of Liquica, west of Dili, as part of a random security sweep for suspected militia on Saturday. Vehicles travelling from the western border were searched for weapons and passengers' identity checked.

Meanwhile, a heavy militia presence at the Motaain border resulted in only 1,500 East Timorese coming across for a family reunion meeting at the weekend. Witnesses said the Indonesian military appeared to be co-operating fully with the militia, who were screening refugees.

The UN refugee agency has temporarily shut down relief operations because of continuing threats of violence to its staff.

Mark Dodd

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