|Subject: AFP: Militia infiltrators
surrender, flee from East Timor: UN
Agence France-Presse (AFP) Date: 14 Nov 2000
Militia infiltrators surrender, flee from East Timor: UN
DILI, Nov 14 (AFP) - East Timor's chief administrator, Sergio Viera de Mello, said Tuesday the number of militia infiltrators roaming the mountainous half-island territory had declined.
"The estimated total number of militia inside East Timor has dropped to about 50 ... which means that others have fled or surrendered," De Mello said.
New Zealand-led multinational peacekeepers securing East Timor's border region first detected militia infiltrators, as opposed to hit and run cross-border raiders, in May this year.
They observed "a high tempo of militia operations" throughout June and August, Major Roger Noble, a New Zealand peacekeeper, told journalists Monday in the southern border town of Suai.
Peacekeepers estimated about 150 militia had infiltrated the border from bases in West Timor, where it was suspected they were being trained or armed by Indonesian soldiers.
The militia killed two peacekeepers in clashes in late July and early August -- New Zealand Private Leonard Manning and Nepali Private Devi Ram Jaisi.
During those months New Zealand peacekeepers observed three groups, each containing more than 50 heavily armed militia, "traipsing through to" the southern border region to central East Timor, Major Noble said.
But in September they were detected "exfiltrating" along the same routes.
New Zealand soldiers killed three of those militiamen between September 26 and October 24, adding to two killed by Australian peacekeepers in August.
Militia activity had dropped off since then, Noble said. "We have had a downward slide in militia activity and security is stable in the (southern border) area," Noble told a visiting UN Security Council delegation.
The UN Transition Authority in East Timor has frozen the downsizing of its military component, and boosted its counter-insurgency capacity in response to the earlier rise in militia activity.
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