Subject: NZ soldiers shoot dead third militaman in E. Timor

NZ soldiers shoot dead third militaman in E. Timor

WELLINGTON, Oct 25 (Reuters) - A third militiaman died in East Timor following fresh clashes with New Zealand peacekeepers, the New Zealand army said on Wednesday.

The man died during two exchanges of fire on Tuesday night near the West Timor border around six kilometres (four miles) northeast of the New Zealand military headquarters at Suai.

"The militia members were patrolling towards the soldiers when an exchange of shots occurred," the army said in a statement.

Brigadier Lou Gardiner said the militia group were fired on when they came within 10 metres (yards) of the New Zealand position around 8:15 p.m. (1115 GMT).

"Contact was initiated when the group was within 10 metres of the position. The militia group returned fire on the soldiers. The group was moving in a manner that indicated an aggressive intent and they had been identified as carrying weapons," he said.

There was a further brief exchange around three hours later, an army spokesman told Reuters.

"At first light the New Zealanders were able to confirm that one militia member had been killed," the army said.

New Zealand soldiers have shot dead two militiamen in previous exchanges near the Timorese border -- one last month and one earlier this month.

Two peacekeepers -- a New Zealander and a Nepali -- have been killed, along with several other militia in other clashes.

The militias, who laid waste to East Timor after it voted for an end to Indonesian military occupation last year, are now based in West Timor and make regular incursions into East Timor.

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