Subject: Indon Army Cuts Aid To E Timor Gangs -Senior UN Peacekeeper

Associated Press November 1, 2000

Indonesian Army Cuts Aid To E Timor Gangs-Snr Peacekeeper

DILI, East Timor (AP)--The militias who devastated East Timor last year appear to have lost the support of the Indonesian Army, said a top U.N. peacekeeper Wednesday.

Australian Brig. Ken Gillespie, who heads the U.N.'s peacekeeping operations along East Timor's border, said that groups of armed militiamen who had infiltrated East Timor are gradually withdrawing into Indonesian-held West Timor.

Gillespie said that Indonesia's military, which is known by its acronym TNI, appeared to be cracking down on militia organizations in West Timor.

"There's a new card game being played in West Timor and their patronage from some elements of the TNI is under threat," Gillespie said.

Army Support Withdrawn After Mob Attack He said some of the estimated 100 paramilitaries operating in East Timor were leaving the territory due to a loss of logistical support from across the border.

Indonesia's army withdrew its backing for the gangs after a militia mob killed three U.N. foreign aid workers in West Timor in September, Gillespie said.

In the past few months, clashes between militiamen and U.N. peacekeepers in East Timor have left two foreign soldiers and several militiamen dead.

The militias were initially set up by Indonesia's army early last year as a counterbalance to popular support for East Timor's independence movement.

After a U.N.-sponsored ballot on Aug. 30, 1999 - in which the majority of East Timoresee voted to break away from Indonesia - militias rampaged through East Timor, killing hundreds and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes and seek shelter in neighboring West Timor.

A few weeks after this, the militias were forced out of East Timor by international troops.

Jakarta Promises to Help Disarm Militias Since then militias have used a string of refugee camps in West Timor as safe havens and bases for border incursions.

The United Nations has demanded that Indonesia disarm the militias, and last month police and soldiers in West Timor confiscated hundreds of weapons.

Additionally, intense international pressure has led to an Indonesian government pledge to help disarm the paramilitaries.

But Gillespie said the peacekeepers in East Timor had no way of knowing if the reports of continuing disarming were true.

"We know there's an operation going on but we don't know how well armed the militia were. We've been told that anywhere between 45 and 90 percent of arms have been retrieved but I would say it would be at the lower end of that scale," said Gillespie.

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