Subject: AP: Malaysian peacekeeping force withdraws from East Timor

August 29, 2006

Malaysian peacekeeping force withdraws from East Timor

DILI (AP): Malaysian troops officially withdrew Tuesday from East Timor after helping restore law and order in the troubled nation for about three months.

The more than 400 troops of the Royal Malaysian Army Forces arrived in East Timor on May 25 to bolster the Australian-led peacekeeping force requested by the East Timor government afterviolence broke out in the capital, Dili.

The violence, the worst in the country of less than 1 million people since its 1999 vote for independence after 24 years of Indonesian rule, erupted after then-Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri fired about 600 soldiers.

Clashes between rival security forces in the capital later spilled into gang warfare, looting and arson that left 30 people dead and prompted nearly 150,000 to flee their homes.

Sporadic gang fighting has persisted and tens of thousands of people continue to be afraid to return home or are unable to because their houses were destroyed.

Last week, the U.N. Security Council authorized a mission of 1,600 international police and 34 military liaison officers ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 2007. (**)


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