Subject: AP: "Militia are burning everything"; UN Staff Evacuates Some Areas
Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 06:48:07 EDT

Associated Press Friday, September 3, 1999

UN Workers Evacuated From Part Of E Timor; Violence Grows

DILI, Indonesia (AP)--Anti-independence militiamen occupied towns and villages across East Timor on Friday, and police evacuated dozens of U.N. staff workers from one of the many areas that were under siege by the marauding gangs.

"They are burning everything. They don't respect anything. They are out of control. They are crazy," said one of the 54 U.N. workers who returned to Dili, the territorial capital, from the town of Maliana, southwest of the capital. He spoke on condition of anonymity, saying he feared reprisals.

"Indonesian police are doing nothing to stop the violence," said another evacuated U.N. worker, American David Peace.

Forty of the evacuated staffers were foreigners acting as liaison officers or civilian police. The rest were East Timorese.

A new wave of violence also swept across parts of Dili, where votes were being counted in Monday's historic referendum on East Timor's future. Smoke poured from some shacks that had been set on fire near the U.N. compound in Dili's troubled Becora district.

"People are running for their lives. There is panic. The shooting is coming closer," said one frightened resident, who also refused to give his name.

The U.N. mission said it was "defenseless" in face of the deteriorating security situation and the inability of Indonesian defense forces to restore law and order.

Indonesian forces, which invaded East Timor in 1975, have been widely accused of doing little to control the militant groups that want the small island territory to remain part of Indonesia.

U.N. spokesman David Wimhurst said that at least four locally-hired U.N. staff members have been killed and six left missing since Monday's referendum on whether the half-island territory should break away from Indonesia.

- More Than Dozen Residents Feared Dead - Human rights groups and witnesses said that more than a dozen East Timorese residents have died in the fighting this week, but no official civilian death toll was available.

The counting of votes continued in Dili under tight security, and Indonesia's defense minister announced earlier Friday in Jakarta that the results of the referendum would be announced Saturday, several days earlier than expected.

Given the large turnout, many people believe that voters favoring independence will win the referendum.

On Thursday, pressure increased for the U.N. to deploy armed peacekeepers to East Timor, as Indonesian security forces failed to stop pro-Indonesian militia gangs from wreaking havoc, and thousands of people fled their homes.

For the first time, Indonesia indicated that it might allow a multinational force into East Timor. However, a peacekeeping force would have to be authorized by the U.N. Security Council, and there doesn't appear to be unanimous support for such a force.

The worst-hit area Friday was Maliana, 60 kilometers southwest of Dili.

Two U.N. drivers were killed Thursday night. Five others were unaccounted for, and 33 U.N. foreign and local staff had abandoned their stockade-like headquarters for an Indonesian police station after being surrounded by hundreds of armed gang members.

"It is very clear that the militia are in control," Wimhurst said before the evacuation. "The militias are running rampant through the town and no effort was made to stop them."

Dozens of houses were burned in Maliana as well as the town of Liquica, 30 kilometers west of Dili.

The new wave of deaths came one day after fighting between pro-and anti-independence supporters killed at least three people near the U.N. mission in Dili.

Local human rights workers say that thousands of people have fled the ramshackle capital in the past few days. Some have sought safety in the surrounding mountainous countryside.

In Washington, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command said the USNS Kilauea, an ammunition supply ship, was standing by as an alternative helicopter landing facility for any emergency operation.

In another development, Nobel peace laureate Jose Ramos Horta flew to the U.S. on Friday to urge world donors to freeze all aid to Indonesia to punish it for allegedly supporting the anti-independence militias.

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