Subject: Pro-Jakarta militias prepare to attack UN-backed force

Channel NewsAsia [Singapore] 16 October 1999

Pro-Jakarta militias prepare to attack UN-backed force

Heavily armed pro-Jakarta militias in West Timor say they are intending to launch more attacks against the UN-backed international force across the border in East Timor.

On Friday, scores of militiamen went through training exercises in West Timor in preparation for a planned offensive in East Timor.

Dozens of militiamen on Friday had gathered at a training ground in West Timor's Salele district to join a military exercise.

Dressed in Indonesian military uniforms,some in camouflage, and armed with automatic weapons, the militiamen did target practise and rehearsed a patrol.

The militiamen said it was the last exercise before heading across the border into East Timor's southwestern Kovalima district - where they say they intend to recapture territories around the town of Suai.

"We ask you all to be ready to fight and die for integration. We also have the right to have East Timor, and the world must acknowledge that, not just recognising the pro-independence," said a militia commander during the military exercise.

Pro-Jakarta forces have demanded East Timor be split between them and pro-independence supporters despite an August referendum in which an overwhelming number of East Timorese voted for independence.

Indonesia has so far done nothing to prevent militia activities in West Timor despite its pledge not to let the Indonesian province be used as a sanctuary for the militias.

Many of the pro-Jakarta militias and their leaders fled to West Timor, where Indonesia's rule over East Timor is not disputed.

Indonesia allowed foreign soldiers into East Timor last month after its own soldiers and police failed to control the militias, who went on a bloody rampage of killing and arson following the vote.

Tension has been high in the Western border region between East and West Timor - three pro-Jakarta miltiaimen were killed in a skirmish with foreign troops in East Timor on Saturday, one week after an Indonesian policeman was killed in another clash along the border.

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