Subject: Shots fired to disperse brawling gangs

Shots fired to disperse brawling gangs

From correspondents in Dili

January 03, 2008 08:33pm

Agence France-Presse

EAST Timorese and UN police fired warning shots into the air to disperse hundreds of brawling gang members in the capital.

The fight was apparently triggered by the murders of two young gang members during New Year's celebrations earlier this week.

About 300 people took to the streets for the fight, which resulted in the deployment of a helicopter crewed by international peacekeepers, according to a correspondent for press agency AFP.

"We had no choice but to launch warning shots as they refused to disperse," an East Timor policeman said.There were no reported casualties.

Meanwhile, UN police said that a fight in the country's western-central district Ermera on Wednesday led to the windows of a UN police vehicle being smashed and one man injured.

Two fighting groups were dispersed but later gathered again and threw stones at a police station.

Tiny East Timor remains in a fragile state after it descended into chaos in April and May 2006, when security force factions waged battle on the streets, leaving at least 37 people dead.

International peacekeepers and UN police were despatched to maintain security.

President Jose Ramos-Horta has said he wants Australian-led peacekeepers to stay until the end of this year at least and the UN, with its 1700 police, should remain until 2011.

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