Subject: Interview w/eyewitness in Dili: soldiers looting and burning
Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 17:22:41 EDT

ABCTranscript 7:30 PM News with Kerry O'Brien 8/09/99

Soldiers loot and burn East Timorese capital

KERRY O'BRIEN: And for an eyewitness report from Dili today, I'm joined by one of the few remaining journalists there, John Martinkus, of Australian Associated Press, on a satellite phone at the UN compound.

John, what can you tell us about what went on on the streets of Dili today from the UN reconnaissance team that went out?

JOHN MARTINKUS, AAP JOURNALIST, UN COMPOUND: OK, I've got two sources of information.

The UN reconnaissance team, they went down there. Basically, what they saw was the TNI soldiers in uniform looting the capital. The business centre was burning. There was a few people around going through the rubbish.

There was -- down at the dock, there was about 4,000 people who were surrounded by militias and police troops who behaved very aggressively towards the UNAMET people.

This is the kinds we've scene.

There was possessions scattered everywhere, there was buildings burning. There was, basically, militias drunk, drinking cans of Victorian Bitter which the UN had flown in -- they've looted stocks.

Basically, that reconnaissance mission came back to the compound.

Another five-car convoy headed down to the UN warehouse on the dock. They were trying to get some supplies from the UN warehouse because we are running out of water and food here. They were attacked by militias.

One of the military liaison officers was almost abducted. They were both shot at with machine guns. Their vehicles were smashed with machetes and they got away just in time.

Unfortunately, they weren't able to secure the warehouse properly.

That means the majority of the UN supplies are now in the hands of militias.

Since then, it's been a critical situation, indeed.

At the moment, there are houses burning within 30-40 metres of the UN compound.

Looks like the university's going up down the road -- huge pummels of black smoke going up -- and, of course, they're firing out of the compound.

KERRY O'BRIEN: It certainly makes a mockery of any declaration of martial law?

JOHN MARTINKUS: Well, you know, this morning, an American journalist who is half Puerto Rican and passes as a Javanese did a very -- some would say stupid, but others say brave thing.

He put on an Indonesian police T-shirt and walked straight out of the front gate and into town for two hours.

What he witnessed within 50 metres of the compound was TNI soldiers from the same unit that are supposedly protecting our compound -- which main preoccupation seems to be to shoot over our head -- looting televisions and other furniture and other belongings from the neighbouring houses.

Further into town, he heard what sounded like machineguns, short bursts of machinegun fire being shot inside houses as militias and military went through houses, indicating they were going in and shooting the occupants and moving on to the next place before destroying houses of pro-independence people.

He was saying it was very carefully mapped out which houses they were going to destroy.

Some remain, some were intact -- those of the pro-Indonesians are intact, the other ones are destroyed.

There are bombs being thrown into a clump, and then the whole house goes into flames.

It's basically, I mean, you know, they're destroying the town, they're driving us out.

It's a very organised and very heavy military operation happening here today.

KERRY O'BRIEN: John Martinkus thank you very much for talking with us.

Believe me, your work is appreciated, thank you.

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