Monday, July 5, 1999 Published at 07:10 GMT 08:10 UK
Indonesia condemns East Timor attack
UN representatives (right) face armed gunmen in Liquisa
The Indonesian Government has condemned an attack by pro-Jakarta militias on a United Nations-escorted aid convoy in East Timor, and has promised to investigate the incident.
The head of the UN in East Timor, Ian Martin, accused the Indonesian authorities of an inexcusable lack of action to control the militias.
He said the attack could jeopardise next month's referendum on the territory's future.
Three people were injured and six are missing after the militias opened fire on the aid convoy in the town of Liquisa on Sunday. A UN car was badly damaged and a UN helicopter was attacked as it tried to evacuate the aid workers.
The convoy, organised by a local human rights group, had just distributed supplies of food and medicine to displaced people living around the town when it was targeted by militiamen armed with guns and machetes.
Indonesia has promised to guarantee security in East Timor in the build-up to next month's planned referendum on the territory's future.
But Mr Martin told the BBC that it was looking increasingly impossible for a "positive security assessment" to be made ahead of the vote.
"At the moment we are still seeing militia operating in a number of places with impunity.
"The secretary general (of the United Nations) has to make an assessment of the security conditions in 10 days time.
"It's impossible to see how that will be a positive assessment."
Indonesian military personnel have been accused of giving covert support to the militias which have been holding the inhabitants of Liquisa under virtual armed seige since they attacked the town in April, killing a number of civilians.
Local residents complain of regular threats and harassment to dissuade them from voting for independence.
Speaking after a meeting with East Timorese pro-independence leaders, Mr Alatas said East Timor would immediately revert to being a Portuguese-administered territory if its people rejected Indonesia's offer of autonomy.
The pro-independence delegation, led by the resistance leader, Xanana Gusmao, and the exiled Nobel Laureate, Jose Ramos-Horta, paid tribute to the new policy.
The pro-independence delegation is proposing a transitional government in which pro-Jakarta Timorese, the United Nations and Indonesia could be involved for up to three years after the vote.
It also wants Mr Gusmao released from house arrest so he can campaign in East Timor before next month's referendum.
Mr Alatas said he could give no assurances that this would happen. While he expressed interest in the proposal for a three year transitional administration, he ruled out long-term Indonesian involvement in the territory.
The foreign minister repeated earlier promises to guarantee security in East Timor but said it was unrealistic to expect the Indonesian military to be impartial after 23 years of fighting in the territory.
He also accused the United Nations mission there of favouring the pro-independence movement.