Subject: UN Peacekeepers Clash With Suspected Militias In E Timor

The Associated Press February 24, 2001

UN Peacekeepers Clash With Suspected Militias In E Timor

JAKARTA (AP)--Australian peacekeepers clashed with suspected militiamen in East Timor, U.N officials said Saturday.

A U.N patrol fired on two suspected paramilitaries late Friday after one of them raised a weapon at them, said U.N spokesman Capt. John Liston.

Liston said no peacekeepers were injured in the incident, which occurred about six kilometers east of Balibo near the border with Indonesian West Timor.

Two light reconnaissance helicopters flew in to locate the militiamen and extra troops were deployed to the area to assist the patrol, he said.

No further details were immediately available.

East Timor, a former Indonesian territory, voted for independence in 1999 in a U.N.-sponsored referendum. After the ballot, pro-Indonesian militias rampaged through the territory, destroying much of it.

International troops put a stop to the violence. Most of the militia along with hundreds of thousands of refugees fled to West Timor.

The U.N. is currently administering the territory in the run-up to elections planned in six months time.

Two peacekeepers -a New Zealander and a Nepali - were killed last in clashes between militia infiltrators and U.N. servicemen.

Most of the insurgents returned to their bases in West Timor, after the Indonesian government promised to crack down on their activities there.

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