Subject: Lusa: Rival Political Groups Clash in Venilale, 2 Hurt and 22 Arrested

East Timor: Rival Political Groups Clash in Venilale, 2 Hurt and 22 Arrested 4 Dec-18:12

At least two people were injured and 22 arrested during a weekend clash between supporters of rival political groups in the East Timorese town of Venilale, a police source told Lusa Monday.

Lusa ascertained that a group of about a hundred people assaulted Sunday the local headquarters of the CDP-RDTL (Popular Defense Committee - Democratic Republic of East Timor), a radical splinter group founded in Nov. 1999. The attackers were reportedly members of the CNRT (National Council of Timorese Resistance) East Timor`s umbrella leadership group, and one of its main constituent movements, Fretilin.

The CDP-RDTL defends recognition of the republic declared unilaterally by Fretilin in Nov. 1975, shortly before the Indonesian invasion and subsequent 24 year occupation of East Timor.

At least two people suffered machete wounds during the Sunday incident in Venilale, a town in the eastern district of Baucau. East Timorese sources told Lusa that Antonio Costa (known as Ai Tahan Matak), was "seriously injured" and had been taken to Dili for hospital treatment along with the other unidentified victim.

About twenty CDP-RDTL supporters subsequently sought refuge at the UN police station in Venilale, which had to call in reinforcements from Bagia and Baucau to control the pursuing crowd. The police source said more than a hundred youths armed with machetes, knives, clubs and stones surrounded the building and threatened to kill the CDP-RDTL members.

The crowd dispersed several hours later, after more than a hundred police intervened, among them members of the Jordanian rapid response unit based in Baucau.

A police spokesman said 22 people were arrested, six of whom were later released. The others are being held at the Baucau prison.

The Sunday incident follows increased tensions between CDP-RDTL members and local supporters of Fretilin and the CNRT in the Venilale area.

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