Subject: AFP: 148 arrested over Timor violence

148 arrested over Timor violence

From correspondents in Dili

February 22, 2007 09:14pm

Article from: Agence France-Presse

UN police have arrested 148 people suspected of involvement in a resurgence of street violence in the East Timorese capital, the UN envoy to the troubled country said today.

"In the past three days, the police have arrested 148 people, all related to the security situation in Dili," Atul Khare said.

Seven international UN police officers were injured yesterday in fresh violence on the streets of Dili.

Police had stepped up patrols to tighten security following the recent increase in violence, Mr Khare said.

"I do believe that ... the people of Timor Leste (Easr Timor) will refrain from (violence), will introspect and will come to the conclusion that attacking the United Nations, which is here to restore peace and calm in their country, is not something which can be praised, it is something that must be condemned," he said.

Mr Khare warned of tough action against those involved in the latest street violence to hit Dili since major unrest in April and May last year left 37 dead.

The street violence, mostly between members of rival martial arts gangs, has beset Dili for the past two weeks.

Australia yesterday warned its citizens against travelling to East Timor due to the "volatile security situation."

"The situation could deteriorate further without notice and Australians could be caught up in any violence directed at others," the department of foreign affairs and trade said.

"There is also an increasing likelihood that Australians and Australian interests may be specifically targeted."

Last year, a protest by disgruntled soldiers rapidly degenerated into clashes between rival security forces and gang wars on the streets of the capital that prompted the deployment of an Australian-led international peacekeeping force.

The UN has deployed some 1300 police to help restore order.

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