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DATE=10/7/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=TIMOR / PEACEKEEPERS (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-254753 BYLINE=JOE COCHRANE DATELINE=JAKARTA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The commander of the multinational peacekeeping force in East Timor is rejecting criticism that his troops are deploying too slowly to restore order, so relief efforts can be established. As Joe Cochrane reports from Jakarta, peacekeepers are spreading out over rocky terrain to thwart attacks by pro-Indonesian militias. TEXT: In his latest defense of the pace of deploying some five-thousand multinational troops, Australian Major General Peter Cosgrove dismissed criticism of the pace of the operation as "rubbish." General Cosgrove, leader of the International Force in East Timor - or INTERFET - says peace- keepers are moving quickly in harsh terrain to establish security for tens of thousands of hiding refugees. He says if INTERFET does not move what he termed, a "critical mass" of troops into insecure areas, it will tempt the militias to attack. Some foreign aid workers have complained that INTERFET is moving at a snail's pace (too slowly), delaying much-needed humanitarian aid operations and the return of refugees. Critics say many areas where peacekeepers have not allowed aid deliveries for security reasons are now safe or could be secured with a minimum numbers of troops. General Cosgrove's defense of his operation comes a day after peacekeepers killed two militiamen, during an ambush on INTERFET forces near East Timor's volatile border with West Timor. Two Australian soldiers were slightly wounded in the attack. INTERFET is setting up bases near the border, amid reports that militiamen are massing on the other side, preparing to fight. In Jakarta, Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas pledged the government would not allow the militias to operate from West Timor, to attack peacekeepers or civilians. INTERFET's deputy commander, Major General Songkitti Chakkabatr of Thailand, arrived in East Timor Thursday with the first of some 15-hundred Thai troops who will join the operation. (Signed) NEB/JC/FC 07-Oct-1999 06:43 AM EDT (07-Oct-1999 1043 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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