Subject: UN interpreter dies of stab wounds in East Timor's capital

UN interpreter dies of stab wounds in East Timor's capital

12/11/2006 05:38:39 AM EST

AP WorldStream English (all)

DILI, East Timor_A U.N. staff member in East Timor died of stab wounds Monday in the violence-wracked capital after being attacked outside the prime's office minister a day earlier, officials said.

Antonio Fernandes, 23, was an interpreter for the U.N. police force in Dili and was off duty Sunday night when the incident took place, said Edio Gueterres of the U.N.'s political affairs office.

Fernandes, the nephew of East Timor's deputy house speaker, was repeatedly stabbed in the back and stomach, and died in a hospital, said hospital supervisor Zony Santos. Emergency surgery failed to stop the internal bleeding, Santos said.

It was unclear if the stabbing was politically motivated or related to gang violence which has killed at least a dozen people and injured 75 in recent weeks.

Police detained several suspects shortly after the stabbing, Gueterres said.

East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, voted to break away from occupier Indonesia in 1999, a vote which prompted the massacres of around 1,500 people by Indonesian troops and anti-independence militias.

It was plunged into crisis again early this year when then-Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri fired a third of the armed forces.

The dismissal sparked gun battles between police and army factions that later spilled into gang warfare, looting and arson, and led to Alkatiri's resignation in June. At least 37 people were killed and 155,000 were driven from their homes.

Calm largely returned with the arrival of more than 2,500 foreign peacekeepers and the installation of a new government.

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