Subject: SMH: East Timor rebels 'put a price' on Anzac heads

Sydney Morning Herald 28/07/2000

Rebels 'put a price' on Anzac heads

By MARK DODD in Suai and DAVID LAGUE in Bangkok

A price has been put on the heads of Australian and New Zealand peacekeepers in East Timor, with the ears of the young Kiwi soldier killed on Monday cut off as a bounty trophy, senior military sources said yesterday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, senior United Nations officers told the Herald that a bounty of between 1.5 and 2 million rupiah ($280 and $380) was likely to have been paid to members of the Laksaur militia believed responsible for the death of 24-year-old Private Leonard Manning.

"It was a bounty. Payment was involved," said one senior officer.

Militia sources in Indonesian West Timor had provided information on the bounty, the officers said. The reward money was probably being offered by senior pro-integration officials, many of them wealthy from their years of holding political and military favour in East Timor when it was under Indonesian control.

The bounty was an incentive to keep the integrationist cause alive, and held great propaganda value for the pro-Jakarta movement.

Australia announced yesterday it will reinforce its peacekeeping force in East Timor with four Black Hawk helicopters and about 100 extra troops.

The move to support the 1,500 Australian soldiers already serving there follows Monday's border gun battle between a New Zealand patrol and what are believed to have been professionally trained militia raiders from Indonesian territory.

A range of Indonesian military equipment has been found near the attack site, close to the hamlet of Nana, north-west of Suai.

This find includes standard-issue Indonesian camouflage fatigues, including a shirt bearing the special forces Kopassus patch, a jungle knife, a photocopied map of the border, belt kit, nylon rope, clove cigarettes and washing powder.

Empty shell casings also collected were consistent with rifles used by militia and the Indonesian military.

Australia's decision to return the Black Hawks shows there are fears that better trained and armed militia groups, with backing from elements in the Indonesian military, now pose a serious threat to security in East Timor.

It will increase pressure on Australia's stretched military helicopter force because the Army's 36 Black Hawks are crucial to Sydney Olympics security, Bougainville peace monitoring and potential deployments to South Pacific trouble spots.

Army sources said all Black Hawks sent to East Timor with the Australian-led Interfet force last year were withdrawn when the UN took over in February because the helicopters were needed for the Olympics.

The Olympic security plan includes about 25 of the troop-carrying Black Hawks.

"They are now faced with a pretty delicate balancing act," an Army aviation expert said last night.

But a spokesman for the Minister for Defence, Mr Moore, said that sending four helicopters back to East Timor would have "no significant impact" on security for the Olympic Games in September.

Brigadier Duncan Lewis, the Australian commander of the 2,000-strong force of New Zealand, Australian, Fijian, Irish and Nepalese peacekeepers based along the border, spoke yesterday for the first time of the possibility of rogue Indonesian military elements in West Timor.

Indonesia's President Wahid has said that rogue military loyal to the ousted president Soeharto were responsible for recent violence in the Malukus, Aceh and East Timor.

"There could be [rogue elements]," Brigadier Lewis said.

"If there are elements who hold a different view to the central government then it's quite a concern and very dangerous if that situation exists."

He expected more militia attacks directed at the Australian and New Zealand positions involving militia with a high level of military expertise.

Two previous grenade attacks on Australian peacekeepers around Maliana on May 28 and June 21 also involved highly trained militia, he said.

Brigadier Lewis has compiled a list of eight integration militia identified as being involved in Monday's attack and has asked the Indonesian military to act on the information.

Mr Moore and the Foreign Minister, Mr Downer, both denied yesterday that the Black Hawks were being sent in response to Private Manning's death.

Mr Moore said the Chief of the Defence Force, Admiral Chris Barrie, had advised the Federal Government to send helicopters to East Timor after a visit to the peacekeepers in June.

Australian field commanders have been complaining for months that the withdrawal of all of the armed, night-flying helicopters had been a blow to ground troops operating over an extended area in rugged country with few roads.

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