Subject: RT: Indonesia seizes weapon linked to Timor UN death

Reuters: Indonesia seizes weapon linked to Timor UN death

Indonesia seizes weapon linked to Timor UN death

WELLINGTON (October 30) : The Indonesian army has seized from militia in West Timor a weapon that may have belonged to a New Zealand peacekeeper killed in East Timor, the New Zealand Defence Force said on Sunday.

A group of militia seized near the Timorese border were carrying the weapon, which is similar to one carried by Private Leonard Manning, 24, killed in a gun battle with militia in July, the Defence Force said.

The New Zealand Press Association reported that the weapon was a Belgian Minimi 5.56 mm light machinegun. It was seized about 30 km (19 miles) on the Indonesian side of the border in West Timor.

New Zealand media said the Indonesian army was holding three militia members as suspects in the killing of Manning one of two peacekeepers killed in clashes with militias since foreign forces moved into East Timor in September 1999.

Around 8,000 UN peacekeepers are stationed in East Timor, including around 700 New Zealanders.

The territory is being run by a UN transitional authority after East Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia last year.

The New Zealand Defence Force, in a statement issued in Wellington, said the UN authority in East Timor and the peacekeeping Force headquarters were in contact with the Indonesian army to find out if the seized weapon came from the dead New Zealander.

"The weapon is similar to the one carried by Private Leonard Manning when he was killed earlier this year, and that was reported to have been taken by the militia during that incident," the Defence Force said.

Militias, who laid waste to East Timor after the independence vote are now based in West Timor and make regular incursions into East Timor.

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