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Tuesday, July 6, 1999 Published at 05:02 GMT 06:02 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Emergency UN mission to Indonesia

A UN driver from the attacked convoy was questioned by police on Monday

The head of the United Nations' mission in East Timor, Ian Martin, is flying for urgent talks in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, after a series of attacks by pro-Indonesian militias on unarmed UN officials.

East Timor
An aid worker on a convoy attacked on Sunday at Liquisa, near the border between East Timor and Indonesia, told the BBC that Indonesian police stood and watched as UN staff and aid workers were kicked and stoned.

He said he had no doubt the militias were under the control of the Indonesian army - which has always denied involvement.

Jonathan Head: "The UN mission is now in crisis"
The UN is overseeing a referendum in East Timor, due to take place next month, on whether the territory should become independent, or integrated into Indonesia, which invaded it in 1975.

Pattern of attacks

Sunday's attack was the third on the UN in a week by the pro-Jakarta paramilitaries. Last Tuesday the UN office in the town of Maliana was badly damaged and there have been numerous threats against UN personnel.

[ image: Martin hopes to meet Defence Minister Wiranto and Foreign Minister Alatas]
Martin hopes to meet Defence Minister Wiranto and Foreign Minister Alatas
Indonesia has promised to guarantee security in East Timor in the build-up to the planned referendum on the territory's future.

Two vehicles belonging to the UN mission, Unamet, were involved in the attack. A driver was shot and hospitalised and six people are reported missing.

BBC Jakarta Correspondent Jonathan Head says despite promises to protect the UN mission, some of the Indonesian government's statements have been less than reassuring.

Indonesia issued a statement saying it "strongly deplores and is seriously concerned" over the assault, which it said was committed by a group of East Timorese.

The statement did not identify the attackers as members of the Besi Merah Putih (Red and White Iron) militia, which controls the Liquisa district and is backed by the regular army.

Eyewitness Dr Dan Murphy, an aid worker in East Timor, describes Sunday's ordeal in Liquisa
Indonesian officials have repeatedly accused Unamet of siding with the pro-independence movement, and the UN says a gun was planted in one of its vehicles while it was reporting the Liquisa attack.

Diplomates believe the Indonesian government does not want the embarrasment of seeing the whole UN mission collapse, but without a dramatic change in the security situation, that is exactly what will happen.

Annan envoy in Sydney

[ image: The UN driver was held up at knifepoint]
The UN driver was held up at knifepoint
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who met the UN secretary general's special envoy on East Timor on Tuesday, urged Jakarta to live up to its commitments and ensure security in the region.

The UN envoy, Jamsheed Marker, said the body would make its concerns known "only too clearly" to Indonesia about what he described as unfortunate incidents. Mr Marker is also planning to return to Jakarta.

Mr Downer was more forthright. "The United Nations and the international community will not be bullied by a bunch of hoodlums and thugs from militias", he said on Monday.

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