Subject: LUSA: No links between recent street violence and troop sackings, says FM

30-03-2006 21:18:00. Fonte LUSA. Notícia SIR-7868452 Temas:

East Timor: No links between recent street violence and troop sackings, says FM

Dili, March 30 (Lusa) - East Timor`s foreign minister said Thursday that recent street disturbances in the capital were not related to a military crisis in the new nation, criticizing media reporting of the violence as "irresponsible, alarmist and completely false".

In a statement, José Ramos Horta said inaccurate coverage and analysis of the weekend disturbances in Dili by Lusa, AFP and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation had "caused significant damage to Timor".

"Only 50 youths were involved in the incidents" in suburban Dili, which resulted in damage to "no more than 20 stores", said the statement from Timor's top diplomat.

The Dili street disturbances were in no way connected to the recent sacking of around a third of the troops in the East Timor Defense Force and only two of the 600 sacked soldiers "were involved in the incidents", said Ramos Horta.

In an interview published in Thursday's Sydney Morning Herald, Ramos Horta described the situation in Timor as "largely calm".

"I do not say that there isn't tension or a climate of fear among the people of Dili", he told the Australian daily, adding that "most of the 600 sacked troops are behaving reasonably well and are not involved in acts of violence or vandalism".

The weekend disturbances were caused by criminal "opportunists" who spread rumors to fuel panic, said Dili's foreign minister.

Earlier, Prime Minister Alkatiri, speaking to reporters after his regular weekly meeting with President Xanana Gusmão, predicted that the disturbances would not negatively impact an international donors' conference in Dili next week.

Describing the tense situation as "improving", Alkatiri said donors would "see this government's capacity to manage delicate situations and seek solutions".

A police official told Lusa Wednesday that 34 people, including 13 of the fired soldiers, had been detained since Friday.

Four suspects in the stabbing of a riot police officer in Dili Tuesday had also been arrested, the official said, adding, however, that that incident was not related to the army crisis.



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