Subject: AP: Masked men storm bus in East Timor; eight dead

Associated Press October 29, 2004

Masked men storm bus in East Timor; eight dead

Masked robbers with machetes stormed a packed minibus in East Timor early Friday, fatally stabbing the driver and causing an accident that killed an additional seven people, police said.

Police arrested one of the attackers hours after the 2 a.m. robbery in Baucau about 120 kilometers (70 miles) east of the capital Dili, East Timor Police Chief Paulo Fatima Martins told The Associated Press.

Police were searching for at least six others who took part in the attack. The detained suspect said the group's motive was robbery but it was unclear if they stole anything.

"He claimed the group were jobless poor people who wanted money," Martins.

The group had blocked the road with tree branches to stop the bus, and stabbed the driver to death as he tried to speed away, Martins said. The bus then crashed into a ravine, killed seven passengers including four women and a boy, he said.

On Wednesday, masked robbers also stole money and mobile phones from a group of Australians in the same area, Martins said.

East Timor, which gained full independence in 2002 after a period of U.N. rule, remains Asia's poorest country and crime is commonplace.

The country has yet to recover from the violence that flared up following 1999 vote for independence, when Indonesian troops and their proxy militias killed 1,500 people and destroyed much of the half-island.

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