TITLE=EAST TIMOR / THURSDAY (L-ONLY)
INTRO: The commander of the international peacekeeping
force in East Timor says the deployment of troops to
the territory has been accelerated. As Patricia Nunan
reports from the East Timorese capital, Dili the
commander made his comments just three days after the
Australian-led peacekeeping force landed in the
capital to restore order after weeks of violence by
pro-Indonesia militia groups.
TEXT: Australian Major-General Peter Cosgrove says he
remains unsatisfied with the security situation in the
East Timorese capital, where he says there are areas
that the international peacekeeping force is unable to
exert its influence.
There are three thousand peacekeepers on the ground in
East Timor. But General Cosgrove says he wants more
deployed as soon as possible.
We are bringing in the troops we have planned to bring
in, and we are bringing them in at a slightly
accelerated rate. We are lucky that the international
community is rallying around and I cannot go into
details because of some of the governments involved.
But I have been most heartened by the response by a
number of regional countries who are providing troops
to this situation.
Up to eight thousand peacekeepers will be deployed in
Shots were fired in Dili on Thursday, with some
witnesses alleging that snipers were shooting at
Australian soldiers. In another incident, residents
say the Indonesian military fired shots at refugees
looting relief food supplies. Details of both
incidents remain unclear, but the Australian defense
forces say there have been no injuries.
The Australian-led multinational peacekeeping force
was launched in East Timor on Monday in order to bring
stability to the territory after armed militia groups
virtually took over.
The militias, who are opposed to independence for East
Timor, began their rampage after the United Nations
announced the majority of East Timorese voted against
continued Indonesian rule of the territory in a
special referendum. Thousands of people are feared
dead while hundreds of thousands have been forced to
leave their homes.
The violence forced the United Nations to withdraw
most of its personnel from East Timor until the
international troops can restore order.
Meanwhile, members of the Indonesian military can be
seen packing their belongings in order to withdraw
from the capital. General Cosgrove says the
Indonesian military -- or T-N-I -- now plans to scale
back its forces from 11 to six battalions in East
Timor, and he welcomes the move.
Some of the elements being withdrawn are elements
whose discipline is sorely tested by the political
situation on the basis that some of the battalions
have been locally recruited. And I commend the
sensible decision of ensuring the test of discipline
of those troops is reduced by their being re-deployed
The United Nations Human Rights Commission says
elements of the Indonesian military may be held
responsible for crimes against humanity in East Timor,
if allegations they orchestrated the militia violence
can be proven. (signed)
23-Sep-1999 05:50 AM LOC (23-Sep-1999 0950 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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