Subject: AGE: Security fears rise in East Timor

Security fears rise in East Timor

The Age November 25, 2002

By Jill Jolliffe in Dili

East Timorese Police Commissioner Paulo Martins said yesterday authorities were worried about the security situation in Dili after a series of incidents in past weeks, including a bomb threat on Saturday targeting Americans.

"We don't have good control over our borders or over entry of arms, which may be coming in illegally," Mr Martins said.

On Saturday night the Esplanade Hotel received a bomb threat and was cleared by police, who, with an Australian Army bomb disposal expert, searched the popular beachfront venue before declaring the call a hoax.

A report from UN intelligence sources released by the ABC a fortnight ago alleged that Jemaah Islamiah operatives may be active in Dili, and said cafes, hotels and other meeting places of foreigners were potential targets. It named the ANZ Bank, which has been sandbagged and blockaded ever since.

Tension in the city has been heightened by attacks on East Timorese policemen - signs of internal political strife - plus Osama bin Laden's recently repeated threats against East Timor, which al Qaeda claims was divided from Islamic Indonesia by the actions of the UN and the Australian military force which led the UN peace keeping operation in 1999.

Mr Martins said some caches of weapons buried during the resistance struggle were unaccounted for.

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