|Subject: SMH: Take up arms, orders Gusmao as 16 die
in Timor fight
Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 09:35:12 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo:
:Sydney Morning Herald 06/04/99
Take up arms, orders Gusmao as 16 die in Timor fight
By LINDSAY MURDOCH, Herald Correspondent in Jakarta
In a dramatic escalation of violence in East Timor yesterday the resistance leader, Xanana Gusmao, called on his supporters to take up arms and fight Indonesian-backed militia groups.
The call came after hundreds of members of the militia launched an attack on Gusmao's supporters, killing at least 16 people and wounding scores more, according to pro-independence activists in the capital, Dili.
Diplomats and analysts said last night that Gusmao's call was likely to spark widespread bloodshed in the former Portuguese territory where 800,000 Timorese are scheduled to vote in July on whether to remain part of Indonesia.
A spokesman in Jakarta for Gusmao said last night: "We have lost our patience."
Until now Gusmao has ordered his supporters to act with restraint despite recent attacks on pro-independence villagers which caused thousands of them to leave their homes and seek refuge in government and private buildings.
Most Gusmao supporters have obeyed the order despite the attacks by militia, some of whom have been armed by the Indonesian military.
A military spokesman in Dili, Lieutenant-Colonel Hardiono, denied last night that 16 people had been killed. But he declined to give any more information.
Gusmao, a former guerilla leader under house arrest in Jakarta, abandoned his efforts to arrange a ceasefire after hearing of the attack, the biggest since President B.J. Habibie announced in February that Timor could break away from Indonesia if Timorese reject an offer of widespread autonomy.
Gusmao's lawyer, Mr Johnson Panjaitan, said in Jakarta that the resistance leader had information that Indonesian soldiers were patrolling the streets of Dili arresting pro-independence supporters. Gusmao is believed to have been infuriated by the attack.
Resistance leaders in Dili were relaying the order to fight to their supporters around the territory, said Mr David Ximenes, a spokesman for the National Council of Timorese Resistance, a pro-independence grouping based in Dili.
Mr Ximenes said the attack on villagers at Liquisa, 33 kilometres west of Dili, was unprovoked and backed by the Indonesian military. Many villagers had fled, 16 people had been killed, and the fighting was continuing, he said.
"Our people are using stones, bows and arrows and anything else they can lay their hands on. But the militia have guns and they just opened fire."
A spokeswoman for the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Downer, said the reports were dismaying, but she declined to comment on the detail until the full facts were available.