|Subject: AU: Marines seen in Timor hills
Date: Sun, 01 Aug 1999 11:28:45 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
The Australian 30 July 99
Marines seen in Timor hills
>From SIAN POWELL in Dili
THE Indonesian military in East Timor will be asked to explain the potentially embarrassing presence of marines in hills controlled by pro-Jakarta militias above the notorious trouble-spot of Liquica, west of Dili, the chief of UN military forces in East Timor, Brigadier Rezaqul Haider, said yesterday.
The marines were spotted in the hills by UN military liaison officers near the village of Vaimoro. Brigadier Rezaqul said the UN officers saw two troop transports waiting near the village, guarded by 18 soldiers.
The soldiers said the transports were for ferrying rations and the UN officers were advised not to proceed any further.
But they continued, negotiating three roadblocks and passing four camps of the local Besi Merah Putih militias before seeing two Indonesian marines with armpatches indicating they were from the Fifth Brigade, which Brigadier Rezaqul said he thought was usually based in Sulawesi.
The marines have been deployed in East Timor for some time, according to military sources, and those seen by the UN officers could have been there for legitimate reasons.
On the other hand, there could be disturbing strategic implications. Falantil guerillas say the Liquica road is an important evacuation route for the Indonesian army and civil servants, and that its strategic importance is one of the reasons for the continued trouble in the region, as well as the presence of large numbers of militiamen.
Brigadier Rezaqul said he was pressing the Indonesian military about its withdrawal plans, "if they have any".
He said the UN would keep a close watch on any military escalation in East Timor, but that paramilitary involvement by the militias had been scaled down in recent weeks.
Asked about a possible military build-up in West Timor, the Indonesian province that shares a border with East Timor, Brigadier Rezaqul said he had no information on that matter but that Bupati, the Alieu region's civil chief had told him: "Up there in West Timor, we have people to look after us."
About 1300 additional Indonesian police have arrived in East Timor in the past week, bringing the total to 8000 or one for every 100 people in the province.