|Subject: DPA: Australian peacekeepers
launch anti-militia operation in East Timor
Also: Timor Post: Militia activity reported in mountainous area of Ainaro District
Deutsche Presse-Agentur September 1, 2000, Saturday, BC Cycle
Australian peacekeepers launch anti-militia operation in East Timor Dili, East Timor
Australian peacekeepers based along East Timor's western border have launched a major operation to try and flush out between 10 and 13 armed pro-Jakarta militiamen hiding in rugged hill country northeast of Maliana, an army spokesman said Friday.
Captain Dan Hurren, based with Sector West Headquarters in southwest Suai, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in a telephone interview that some 140 troops backed by surveillance helicopters were involved in the operation launched at first light on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Australian troops were involved in an exchange of gunfire with three militiamen apparently trying to escape encirclement near Foho Leo Laco hamlet, 10 kilometres from the Indonesian border.
Local residents first alerted the Australians about the presence of the militiamen when several cattle disappeared, evidence that the insurgents are running short of food, Captain Hurren said.
The country is heavily timbered and consists of rugged limestone outcrops peppered with caves, ideal country for waging guerrilla warfare.
Earlier this week, East Timor independence leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jose Ramos Horta criticised Portugese peacekeepers for not doing enough to ensure security in their south-central sector.
Ramos-Horta called on the United Nations Security Council to quickly make up its mind on allowing pro-independence Falintil guerrilla fighters to be part of the overall security arrangements in East Timor, currently provided by a 7,600-strong force from 32 countries. The biggest troop contributor is Australia.
East Timor, a former Portugese colony invaded by Indonesia in 1975, is currently under U.N. transitional rule, with full independence expected to be granted late next year. dpa md jh
---- BBC Summary of World Broadcasts September 01, 2000, Friday Militia activity reported in mountainous area of Ainaro District
Source: ' Timor Post', Dili, in Indonesian 21 Aug 00
Text of report by East Timor newspaper, ' Timor Post', on 21st August
Dili: At least 40 militia members under the direct command of Mariano and Januario are currently carrying out guerrilla activities in the mountains of Ramelau. Meanwhile, around 20 other militia under the alias of "Tiger" have already been spotted around Mullo village, Dare, Hatubuilico sub-district, Ainaro District.
It was reported these militia dispersed in Ainaro and were carrying out their activities in groups of 10-40. It was unclear where they were living, either in caves or under trees.
The presence of militia was reported by Marcelino da Costa, one of the UNTAET [United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor] CEP (Community Employment Project) staff members, to CNRT [National Council of Timorese Resistance] on Thursday (17th August) in Dili. The report was received by CNRT Security Coordinator David Diaz Ximenes.
Marcelino told CNRT, the militia gathered together in Ramelau after infiltrating past the UN peacekeeping forces deployed at the border regions of Suai and Maliana.
This was a follow-up of a report from Filomeno Amaral (18), a local from Fatubuilico who was captured by the militia in the region of Ramelau on Sunday (13th August) at about 1530 local time. During detention, Filomeno was repeatedly warned by the militia not to reveal their position to the local community, especially members of the CNRT around Mullo village.
According to Filomeno's account, cited by Marcelino, around 40 militia well armed with automatic guns and other weapons were discovered while sleeping under trees.
The militia were being led by Mariano alias "Bele to,o ho hadomi" [Tetun language], Januario alias "Oan kiak hadulas" [Tetun language], Julio, Alito and Manuel.
When asked for confirmation as to whether there had been gunfire exchanged between militia and members of the PKF, Marcelino said, "It is true there was fire exchanged on Wednesday (16th August) but we have only just received the information. What is clear however, is that the region of Ainaro, around the Ramelau mountains, is now surrounded by PKF troops looking for militia," he said. He also said that the militia were attempting to disrupt the CNRT national congress being held at the end of August.
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