Subject: SMH: Indon Army Hardliners Blamed for Attack

Sydney Morning Herald Friday, September 8, 2000

Army hardliners blamed for attack

By LINDSAY MURDOCH, Herald Correspondent in Jakarta

Indonesia promised to send two extra battalions to the West Timor border where militia killed up to six United Nations staff on Wednesday, as speculation arose that the chain of command in the country's armed forces had broken down.

Dr Harold Crouch, an Australian expert on Indonesia's armed forces, said the fragmentation of the military had "reached the point that they have difficulty controlling the situation in Timor and elsewhere".

President Abdurrahman Wahid told the UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, he feared the attack may have been timed to coincide with his appearance at the UN world leader's forum to maximise the political embarrassment.

Diplomats in Jakarta are also speculating that the violence was orchestrated by army hardliners.

Dr Crouch, who works for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, said one likely explanation for the latest Timor violence was that it was "manipulated from Jakarta".

Western diplomats in Jakarta said they doubted the boosting of troop numbers would help end violence along the border unless militia leaders like Eurico Guterres are arrested and their groups disarmed and disbanded.

UN officials and aid agencies have documented many attacks on Timorese and foreigners in West Timor in the past 12 months while Indonesian police and soldiers stood by and watched.

, Indonesia's Foreign Minister, Mr Alwi Shihab, yesterday promised the attack would be a "turning point" in ending violence along the border with East Timor.

"We have to act more decisively and more effectively to solve the problem once and for all.

"We decisively took measures and we sent 2,000 personnel - two battalions - to the area to safeguard the office of the UN."

The attack has forced the abandonment of international aid programs supporting more than 100,000 Timorese living in squalid refugee camps along the border.

UN officials leaving West Timor yesterday described the situation as highly volatile.

The official Indonesian newsagency Antara quoted Mr Wahid as saying in New York that the killers of the UN staff would be brought to justice.

Killed were Carlos Caceres-Collazo, a Puerto Rican-born American, Samson Aregahegn of Ethiopia, and Pero Simundza, a Croatian. They were stabbed and dragged on to the street before being set alight. The remaining three were thought to be Timorese.

Indonesia's Attorney-General, Mr Marzuki Darusman, has ordered increased protection of militia members named as suspects in last year's violence in East Timor.

The murder of one of the named militia members - Olivio Mendoza Moruk - on Tuesday night in West Timor prompted Wednesday's rampage.

The Co-ordinating Politics and Security Affairs Minister, Mr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said 15 suspects had been arrested.

An Indonesian military analyst, Mr Salim Said, said a conspiracy against Mr Wahid could not be ruled out, and it was "quite a coincidence" that the violence broke out while Mr Wahid was overseas .

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