Subject: UN calls on Jakarta to punish attack on its officials

UN calls on Jakarta to punish attack on its officials

JAKARTA, Dec 12 (AFP) - The UN administration in East Timor said on Tuesday it has called on the Indonesian government to punish the perpetrators of an "unpleasant and shocking" attack on two of its officials in Jakarta.

The UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) issued a formal protest to the Indonesian government Monday over the December 11 assault on UN officials at the lower house of parliament, an UNTAET statement said.

The incident took place shortly after UNTAET Chief of Staff N. Parameswaran and the director of UNTAET's Jakarta office, Ambassador Lakhan Mehrotra, came out of a courtesy call on House Speaker Akbar Tanjung, the statement said.

In its protest note, UNTAET said it was "regrettable that such a sizeable crowd" was allowed to enter the lobby of the parliament building and was then let loose on the UNTAET delegation, which was on an official visit.

UNTAET underlined that the security was clearly inadequate, "deplored" the incident, and requested the Indonesian authorities "to take stern action against the perpetrators of this attack and ensure that this type of incident is not repeated".

It further requested appropriate security arrangements in the future to protect UN personnel and ensure their immunity.

In reply, the Indonesian foreign ministry assured UNTAET that "The Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia is firmly committed to ensure that such regrettable incident will not recur in the future."

Some 40 people from the nationalist Red-and-White Force mobbed the car transporting the two UNTAET officials out of the meeting with Tanjung, shouting anti-UNTAET slogans.

The sedan was pelted and thumped, and one protestor jumped on the roof of the car.

The group was demonstrating against what they termed foreign intervention in Indonesia's internal affairs.

The campaigners were also opposing UN investigators' attempts to witness the questioning of Indonesian officers who allegedly masterminded last year's post-ballot terror in East Timor.

Such monitoring had been agreed to in a memorandum of understanding between Jakarta and the UN.

Hundreds of people were killed in the wave of violence that followed the territory's independence vote on August 30, 1999. Indonesian army-trained militia led the violence.

More than 250,000 people were forced to flee to neighbouring West Timor where 120,000 still remain.

A team of UN investigators is currently in Jakarta for the officers' interrogation, but so far the witnesses and suspects have failed to show up.

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