Subject: Lusa: Dawn raid grabs 62 suspected rioters, homemade weapons
East Timor: Dawn raid grabs 62 suspected rioters, homemade weapons
Dili, Aug. 25 (Lusa) - International police moved through a troublesome neighborhood in the East Timorese capital at dawn Friday in a house-to-house search for weapons and youths suspected in a recent attack against an Australian officer.
Capt. Gonçalo Carvalho, commander of Portugal's GNR paramilitary unit, told Lusa the raid through the Comoro market area netted 62 suspects and a variety of weapons used in recent communal gang fights, including machetes, arrows and slingshots.
The one-hour operation, involving 155 Portuguese, Australian and Malaysian police, backed by 33 vehicles and one helicopter, also snared the presumed leader of a group that assaulted an Australian officer in Dili on Saturday.
A Lusa correspondent, who accompanied the operation, witnessed the international police surprising sleeping residents as they broke down doors in a methodical search in an unprecedented action Capt. Carvalho said had been planned over several days.
Overnight Thursday, two groups of about 100 youths each attacked Dili's central hospital and the largest of Dili's four camps for tens of thousands of displaced people and stoned Australian peacekeepers guarding the two installations.
The GNR's rapid reaction force was called to both sites and dispersed the mobs by firing rubber bullets, Capt. Carvalho said, adding that youths fleeing from the hospital area set two houses ablaze.
At the camp, two refugees were injured, one seriously from machete blows.
The police raid on Comoro, one of Dili's most restless neighborhoods, took place the same day the UN Security Council was expected to vote in New York on a new UN police and military mission for East Timor.
The Security Council action was set back from last Friday due to disagreements in the council over the make-up and command of the mission's military component.
Prime Minister José Ramos Horta told parliament Thursday that the country was "in greater need of a (UN) police force than of a (military) peace force" in view of Australia's announced readiness to keep troops deployed at least through December.
The current 3,000-strong, four-nation international force arrived in Dili under bilateral agreements in late May to quell a wave of violence sparked by clashes between rival security forces that spiraled into communal rampages.
At least 37 people were killed in the April-May violence and about 152,000 displaced, according to UN officials.
Over 60 held in E.Timor over attack on Australian
DILI, August 25 (Reuters) - Sixty-two people in East Timor have been detained for questioning following an attack on an Australian member of an international peacekeeping force, police said on Friday.
An Australian police officer was attacked by a mob last weekend while patrolling in the capital Dili after fighting between rival gangs of youths, the international police force said in a statement.
"There's no evidence or information that indicates police are being directly targeted, however ... we will not tolerate people attacking police and we will respond strongly," Steve Lancaster, the Australian commander of the force, said in the statement.
Lancaster is in charge of 600 police from Portugal, Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia.
The statement said that nine arrest warrants had been issued by the prosecutor general and that anyone established to be involved in the attack would be charged with assault.
Calm has largely returned to the country after a wave of violence, arson and looting from April to June killed at least 20 people and prompted the government to invite international forces to restore order. Most of the chaos occurred in and around Dili.
But sporadic violence continues involving gangs who fight one another with stones and homemade weapons.
President Xanana Gusmao said on Tuesday he had suspended emergency measures introduced two months ago following the violence sparked by a split in the country's armed forces.
The roots of the initial violence were complex, with elements of political and regional rivalries flaring after then-prime minister Mari Alkatiri, who stepped down under pressure on June 26, sacked nearly half the country's tiny army.
Alkatiri is suspected of arming civilians during the violence and has been told by the country's attorney general that he cannot leave the country.
Nobel Peace Price laureate Jose-Ramos Horta has since taken over as prime minister.