3 More Dead in E. Timor Violence
DILI, Indonesia (AP) _ A second day of violence left three more people dead in East Timor on Friday, despite angry U.N. demands that the Indonesian government rein in the militiamen who don’t want the territory to break away from Indonesia.
A U.N.-organized vote on independence for East Timor is set for Monday, but rampages by anti-independence militia have left nine people dead in two days.
Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in of East Timor 1975, triggering years of guerrilla warfare and human rights abuses. The plebiscite Monday will give residents of mostly Christian East Timor a choice between staying part of Muslim Indonesia as an autonomous region or becoming fully independent.
About 800 militiamen attacked the village of Memo on Friday. Witnesses said two people were stabbed to death by the militiamen and another was shot dead. KIPER, a local monitoring agency, said nine houses were set ablaze before the villagers took revenge and burned cars carrying the assailants.
``We are ready and waiting for them,″ villager Anacleto Lopes said. ``We have been told they are coming in to attack us and we will fight them.″
On Thursday, militiamen who oppose independence swept through East Timor’s regional capital of Dili and fired shots at crowds of pro-independence supporters, leaving six dead and many more injured.
Witnesses said police did nothing to stop the gun-toting militiamen and even helped them _ lending credence to claims that the militiamen have links to Indonesian security forces.
The escalating violence appears designed to frighten independence supporters away from the poll.
But U.N. mission chief Ian Martin insisted Friday the violence will not dissuade the United Nations from going ahead with Monday’s election. He also warned Indonesia there will be ``serious consequences″ if it doesn’t dramatically improve security immediately.
After Thursday’s violence, many shops and offices were closed Friday in Dili and most residents stayed home.
In Jakarta, military commander Gen. Wiranto said he has ordered Indonesian police to capture anyone who incites violence. He called on both sides to hand over their guns.
``The police are ready to safeguard the implementation of the ballot, and take action without discrimination,″ said Wiranto, who, like many Indonesians, uses one name.
In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Indonesia to ``control the militias, who it is increasingly clear, are intent on disrupting the popular consultation.″
The U.N. Security Council expressed strong hope Friday that opposing parties will work together regardless of the outcome of the vote. Council members voted unanimously Friday to extend the U.N. Mission in East Timor until Nov. 30.
In Jakarta, jailed East Timor separatist leader Jose Alexandre ``Xanana″ Gusmao, called on his guerrillas not to launch counterattacks against anti-independence gangs.
Instead, he pleaded for the United Nations to deploy armed peacekeepers to replace unarmed police advisers and military observers stationed across the half-island territory north of Australia.
Pro-Indonesian leaders have warned that a civil war could erupt if East Timor becomes independent, but the United Nations has resisted calls to send peacekeepers into East Timor.
Nugroho Wisnumurti, Indonesia’s negotiator for East Timor, said Friday his country firmly opposed the deployment of an international peacekeeping force to quell violence in East Timor. He warned that the Indonesian military would ``fight until the last soldier″ if such a force were deployed against Jakarta’s wishes.
Wisnumurti spoke in Lisbon, Portugal, where he was having talks with Portuguese and U.N. officials.