Subject: UN&RC Eyewitnesses Confirm TNI Participation In Destruction
Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 21:56:04 EDT

Associated Press September 17, 1999

UN Says Indonesia Militia Liable For E Timor Destruction

UNITED NATIONS (AP)--Confirming that the Indonesian military was involved in the destruction in East Timor, officials from the United Nations and Red Cross witnessed uniformed soldiers helping to set a village ablaze, the U.N. spokesman said Friday.

U.N. personnel were also told that four children, who came down from the hills towards the capital, Dili, "were caught by militia and executed," spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

U.N. and Red Cross officials came across "a military operation" on the way from the capital to nearby Dare, where East Timorese are hiding in the mountains, he said.

"About 50, mostly Indonesian uniformed military personnel were torching a village and driving its habitants away," he said. "While this kind of thing is common, what was unusual is that the Indonesian military, or TNI, were openly involved."

Eckhard reported Thursday the first hard evidence that pro-Indonesian militias blamed for much of the violence in East Timor may be pulling out.

A U.N. military liaison officer witnessed militia in one town walk with military precision to an Indonesian C-130 military transport plane at the airport in the town of Baucau, about 100 kilometers (over 60 miles) east of Dili, and fly off.

The acting head of the U.N. Mission in East Timor, Brig. Gen. Rizakoul Haider, who also visited Baucau, reported that militia in the north coast town "appeared to be in the process of liquidation," Eckhard said.

As the U.N.-sanctioned multinational force made preparations to deploy to East Timor this weekend to restore order, there has been widespread concern over whether the militias and Indonesian troops who back them will continue their looting and killing spree.

Independence leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos Horta said many militiamen who he claimed were Indonesian special forces in disguise _ have packed and fled to the neighboring Indonesian province of West Timor.

In Dili, U.N. personnel traveling to the port area on Friday noticed a "dramatic decrease" in the number of displaced persons that had huddled there in recent days, from 5,000 to 6,000 down to 2,000, he said.

"There were no indications as to where they went," he said.

The militias and soldiers went on a looting and killing rampage to protest the vote for independence by the people of East Timor in a U.N.-supervised ballot on Aug. 30. Jakarta on Sunday acknowledged it had lost control of the former Portuguese colony, which it invaded in 1975, and accepted an international force.

Maj. Gen. Kiki Syahnakri, the Indonesian army commander in East Timor, pledged Thursday that Indonesia would pull out 9,000 soldiers from East Timor, hopefully in a week.

The withdrawal has already begun.

Eckhard said that two Indonesian military battalions, numbering some 4,000 troops, would remain in East Timor until the arrival of the multinational force, expected over the weekend.


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