|Subject: UPDATE: Militiamen Attack U.N. Headquarters
Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 06:50:50 EDT
Associated Press September 1, 1999
Militiamen Attack Outside U.N. Headquarters In East Timor
DILI, Indonesia (AP)--Hundreds of anti-independence militiamen blocked the street outside the U.N. headquarters in East Timor's capital Wednesday, setting on fire a nearby house and shooting cars driving into the U.N. compound.
A taxi carrying journalists to the scene was fired on and had its rear window smashed by militiamen.
The violence came as the United Nations began counting ballots Wednesday in East Timor's historic referendum, a vote that was expected to approve the territory's independence from Indonesia.
It wasn't clear if the militiamen had broken into the compound. Dark smoke billowed from the raging fire near the complex. Indonesian soldiers stood by, but didn't intervene to stop the rioting.
Earlier in Dili, hundreds of armed anti-independence militiamen gathered in the capital's streets, and at least one person was killed.
Dozens of militiamen fired weapons near the entrance of the U.N. headquarters in Dili. A U.N. security officer confirmed that about 150 people - including U.N. officials and journalists - had taken shelter in an auditorium in the compound.
Wednesday's attack was the most serious against the United Nations since the world body took over organization of the vote in May. U.N. workers were attacked before the vote. One was killed Monday, and two are feared dead - victims of attacks just after the vote.
Gunshots rang out Tuesday night in one town, and residents accused the militants of killing a family of eight. In Dili, police said a teen-ager was shot to death.
The violence followed Monday's relatively peaceful referendum on independence. The outbreak raised fears that the territory could slide back into lawlessness as pro-Indonesia militias - sensing defeat - try frantically to take control of whatever they can.
The militias, believed to be backed by Indonesia's military, have accused the United Nations of rigging the vote to encourage independence. The referendum gave East Timorese the option of breaking away from Indonesia, or remaining part of it with autonomy.