Subject: Blast hurts six Indonesians in E. Timor, military says

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

Jakarta Post Monday, October 28, 2002

Blast hurts six Indonesians in E. Timor, military says

Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara

Six Indonesians were wounded when a homemade bomb exploded at a traditional market in an East Timorese town near the border with East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), the military here said on Saturday.

The blast, believed to be caused by a Molotov cocktail, occurred at around 9 p.m. on Friday in Balibo village, Bobonaro subdistrict, East Timor, which is close to Silawan village in East Tasifito subdistrict, East Nusa Tenggara.

Lt. Col. Tjuk Agus Minahasa, chief of the Belu district command, confirmed that an explosion had occurred and said his office was coordinating with local police and their East Timorese counterparts to investigate the blast.

"We have received information on the incident and are looking into it," he told The Jakarta Post.

He could not identify those behind the bomb attack nor their motive.

Tjuk said the East Timor Police were working hard to identify the explosive used in the bombing and discover the motive behind it.

"We don't know for sure what explosive device was used in the explosion as it is still being investigated by East Timor security authorities," Tjuk said.

The six injured Indonesians, who come from Silawan village, are being treated at the Atambua General Hospital in NTT. They appeared very weak on Saturday.

At the time of the explosion, the victims were engaged in a fuel transaction with East Timorese traders at the market.

It is unclear how the six Indonesians -- Lusia Funan, 47, Benedikta In, 26, Martinus Besie, 47, Tarsius Antonin, 33, Halek, 70, and Yudith Abauk, 36, -- came to be in East Timor.

It is believed they entered Balibo illegally as security is not tight at the borders between East Nusa Tenggara and East Timor, a former Indonesian province.

Meanwhile, the hospitalized victims said they felt a strong vibration from the blast, adding that they believed the bombing was perpetrated by East Timorese at the scene.

"At the time, we saw a man hurling an object from a car close to the scene. Fire burst around us from the object that later exploded," Martinus Besie said.

It was the first violence against Indonesians in East Timor since the territory officially became an independent state on May 20.

East Timor voted on Aug. 30, 1999 to secede from Indonesia. The independence vote immediately sparked devastating carnage blamed on pro-Indonesian Military militias, which forced some 250,000 East Timorese to flee to East Nusa Tenggara.

Most of the refugees gradually returned to East Timor ahead of and after their homeland was officially declared the world's newest nation last May.

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