Subject: DPA: U.N. admits large militia presence inside East Timor

Deutsche Presse-Agentur August 8, 2000, Tuesday

U.N. admits large militia presence inside East Timor Dili, East Timor

As many as 75 armed pro-Indonesia militiamen have infiltrated East Timor from Indonesian West Timor and are now operating inside the territory, a senior U.N. military official said on Tuesday.

Lieutenant Colonel Brynjar Nymo, the United Nations military spokesman in Dili, told reporters that intelligence information indicated at least five separate groups of between 10 and 15 armed militiamen had crossed the border.

U.N. peacekeepers from New Zealand, Ireland, Fiji and Nepal were conducting a joint operation to track down one militia group reported operating deep inside southern East Timor near the town of Zumalai, about 220 kilometres south of Dili.

"There have been several reports received over the last four or five days of a large group of armed militia, possibly between 20 and 30 in the Suai, Zumalai area," Nymo said. "They appear to be moving eastwards.

"The group has on several instances made contact with locals to get food and to query on U.N. and NGO (non-government organisation) activity in the area," he said.

The U.N. has demanded Jakarta take further steps to stop militiamen from infiltrating East Timor from West Timor, while East Timorese leaders claim the Indonesian military continues to support, arm and in some cases operate with the militias.

Continued border incursions took on new significance after a New Zealand peacekeeper was killed late last month during a firefight with militiamen.

On Sunday evening, Australian peacekeepers patrolling near the north coast border town of Batugade clashed with at least two armed men, including one dressed in an Indonesian military uniform.

One of the suspected militia was shot and wounded and brought to Dili for medical attention, where he later claimed one of his companions was a serving Indonesian soldier, Colonel Nymo said.

In a second incident on Sunday, Australian peacekeepers spotted up to eight armed militiamen and ordered them to drop their weapons. The militiamen responded with semi-automatic gunfire and fled, including one who was believed to have been wounded by the peacekeepers. dpa md jc wp

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