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UN convoy attacked in Timor-Leste

11 August 2007 A United Nations convoy in Timor-Leste was attacked today, drawing condemnation from the world body's top official there, who called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice while pledging continued assistance to the small country.

During the incident, which involved stone throwing and reported gunshots at UN vehicles, one UN Police vehicle was also set ablaze by the criminal elements. There were no injuries.

The ambush on three UN vehicles was perpetrated by a group of people between the villages of Fatumaka and Gariuai, according to the UN Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), which said personnel traveling in the convoy included four UN Police officers, two national police of Timor-Leste officers, a language assistant, two national staff members and a worker with a non-governmental organization (NGO).

UN police and their counterparts in the national and international forces are working to restore stability in the area.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative for Timor-Leste strongly condemned those behind the attack.

In a statement, Atul Khare stressed that the perpetrators must be brought to justice, and condemned all those involved in the incident, “including those who may have inspired it.”

Mr. Khare recalled that the UN and the international community are in Timor-Leste to assist the Timorese people, “and, having been through difficult times before in this country, will not be deterred by a few criminal elements who by their ill-considered actions are trying to tarnish the good name of the majority of Timorese.”

Timor-Leste has been rocked by violence in recent days following the announcement, after June elections failed to produce an outright winner, that the new Government would be led by former president Xanana Gusmão.

The UN served as midwife in the birth of the nation, organizing a popular consultation in 1999 that was marred in the aftermath by widespread violence, and shepherding the country to independence in 2002.

Last year, the UN enhanced its peacekeeping and policing roles in Timor-Leste after violence attributed to differences between eastern and western regions led to the deaths of at least 37 people and forced 155,000 others, 15 per cent of the population, to flee their homes.

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