Subject: AFP: UN police to expand ETimor operation

Agence France Presse -- English

October 20, 2006 Friday 9:52 AM GMT

UN police to expand ETimor operation

DILI, Oct 20 2006

UN police stationed in the capital of East Timor are to expand their operations in the tiny nation, Commissioner Antero Lopes said Friday.

The 824-strong police force patrolling in Dili is to swell by nearly 100 by the end of October, Lopes told reporters.

In addition, 100 East Timorese police are expected to return to work.

"So by the end of this month, UNPol and PNTL (the East Timorese police) together will be more than 1,000," he said.

"That is indeed a milestone, and by early November we will be in a condition to start expanding to the other districts in Timor-Leste (East Timor)."

The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste was granted an initial six-month mandate in August to assist in elections next year and strengthen the police and justice system.

Some 1,608 police officers and 34 military liaison officers are to be part of the mission.

East Timorese police are also gradually returning to work after they were relieved of their duties in May, although they have first to be screened and undergo a mentoring scheme.

The seaside city of Dili plunged into chaos in April and May when rival factions from the military and police waged bloody battles on the streets alongside youth gangs, leaving some 37 people dead.

The release of a UN inquiry report this week recommending that a series of senior government and security force officials be investigated or prosecuted was seen as a potential flashpoint for further unrest, but the situation has remained calm.

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