Subject: LUSA: Dili riots may have been 'planned attack', says UN mission chief

06-12-2002 12:07:00. Notícia nº 4419940…

East Timor: Dili riots may have been 'planned attack', says UN mission chief

Dili, Dec. 6 (Lusa) - The deadly riots in Dili appear to have been "a planned attack against selected targets", the UN mission in East Timor said Friday, pledging to aid the government in establishing "robust and effective" security.

In a communique, his first since the Tuesday-Wednesday rampages, UNMISET chief Kamalesh Sharma said he had met with President Xanana Gusmao and Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri to "assess the security situation" and review "corrective measures".

The meeting Thursday analyzed needed "cooperation and joint efforts to guarantee social stability and the strengthening of central government structures", Sharma said in the communique.

The UN mission has been widely criticized for its delay of several hours in deploying UN peacekeepers in Dili Wednesday, the worst day of rioting that left two dead and several people seriously wounded.

Among the mob's targets were the homes of Alkatiri and some of his relatives, which were burned down, and government buildings, including parliament.

Sharma said UNMISET was overseeing the autopsies to determine the "exact causes" of death of two youths killed Wednesday.

Portugal, he added, had promised additional security aid, particularly in training for anti-riot police.

In the wake of the violence, Lisbon criticized UN "bureaucracy" for delaying "for weeks" the departure to Dili of a Portuguese team of anti-riot police instructors.

In another development, Parliament Speaker Francisco Guterres returned to Dili Friday from a trip abroad, underlining the ruling Fretilin party's "100 percent" backing for Alkatiri and his government.

He denounced as "dictatorial" calls from some Timorese personalities, including the president, for the sacking of some ministers.

"Such attitudes do not reflect the will of the people nor what they expressed in free elections" in the country+s first balloting in August 2001, Guterres said.

After a mob invaded police headquarters in eastern Baucau last month, Gusmao demanded that Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato be dismissed, a call angrily rebuffed by Alkatiri.

Fretilin supporters, Guterres said, had not taken to the streets in pro-government demonstrations after the riots to avoid adding to tensions.

In Canberra Friday, Australian Prime Minister John Howard told parliament he had called Alkatiri to condemn the violence, which injured two Australian UN peacekeepers, and offer whatever aid Dili requested.


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