|Subject: Reuters: 100s of heads on poles, mutilated
Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 03:42:49 EDT
E.Timorese say reports of mutilated bodies
SYDNEY, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Australian-based East Timorese resistance leaders said on Monday they had received reports from the terror-stricken territory of mutilated bodies and hundreds of heads on poles along the roadside.
``I've been told they could count at least 145 dead bodies on the outskirts of Dili,'' Alfredo Ferreira, the National Council for Timorese Resistance representative in Darwin, told Reuters.
Joao Carrascalao, Australia's senior East Timorese resistance officer, told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio he had received a report of mutilated bodies along the road to Dili.
``One person who travelled from Dili to Atambua reported that alongside the road there were hundreds of heads on stick and bodies everywhere,'' Carrascalao said.
There has been an upsurge in violence by pro-Jakarta militias in East Timor since Saturday, when the United Nations declared 78.5 percent of voters in an August 30 poll opted for independence from Indonesia. No independent confirmation was available of the reports of mass killing.
Australia on Monday launched an evacuation of non-essential U.N. staff and Australians from East Timor's capital Dili, saying Jakarta had failed to maintain law and order in the territory since the independence vote.
Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed it the following year in a move not recognised by the United Nations. Since then an estimated 200,000 people have died of starvation or in fighting.
Resistance leaders also warned that if Xanana Gusmao, the Fretilin leader under house arrest in Jakarta, was freed and returned to the bloodied territory he would be killed and called on Australia to offer Gusmao safe haven. On Saturday Jakarta announced his imminent release, probably on Wednesday.
East Timorese independence leader Agio Pereira told ABC he had received reports of mass killings in the village of Mentiau and in a Catholic nun's college at Balidi.
``One of the worst events was in Mentiau where many people were indiscriminately killed. The report that I received was that possibly hundreds of people were killed in these widespread killings,'' Pereira said.
``Another attack, we cannot say how many dead, but possibly hundreds, was the attack on the college of Balidi, because more than 1,000 people ran into that college of Catholic nuns.''
Australian aid worker Paul Toon, awaiting evacuation from Dili, also told Australian radio he had heard reports of mass killings in Dili.
``There has been a very large level of automatic gunfire at various times through the night, at a scale that goes far beyond anything that we have experienced recently,'' Toon said.
``Through yesterday (Sunday) there was gunfire and there was notification that one series of gunfire was 30 people being massacred at the fort in Dili,'' he said.
East Timorese leaders in Australia said pro-Jakarta militias and Indonesian military were involved in the mass killings and that East Timorese were being rounded up to be deported out of the territory.
``People are being rounded up and taken by (Indonesian) police to an area in Comoro, west of Dili, on the way to the airport, in order that later on they will be sent to islands in Indonesia and to West Timor,'' Ferreira told Reuters.
``They are pushing everybody out, they are trying to clear the city and all towns. If people refuse to go with them, they kill them and burn the house,'' he said. ``The army and police force are working with the militia, they are seen laughing and doing everything together.
``Many many East Timorese here (in Darwin) are getting calls from their relatives in East Timor, the message is all the same. We are going to have a repetition of the late 1970s when more than 200,000 people were killed.''