Thursday, September 2, 1999 Published at 07:05 GMT 08:05 UK
BBC man: 'I'm lucky to be alive'
Video footage of Jonathan Head being kicked by militiamen
BBC correspondent Jonathan Head was caught up in the violence in East Timor. After witnessing a man being hacked to death outside the UN compound, he was chased and beaten himself by pro-Indonesian militias. The incident was captured on film by a crew from the American channel, CNN.
Suddenly there were militiamen running towards us from all directions, wielding machetes. They were screaming incoherently. There was no escape. We pleaded for our lives.
"We're not allowed to intervene," they said. "That's a job for the police." Police were nowhere to be seen. The man who'd beaten us stood chatting with the soldiers. Suddenly he came over to us.
Several truck-loads of armed police did arrive about an hour later. Under the UN agreement they're supposed to guarantee security in East Timor. But they had few answers to what had gone wrong outside the UN headquarters.
Dangerous and aggressive though the militias are, there were only a few dozen of them.
In the Indonesian capital Jakarta they frequently use their guns on far less threatening opponents. But even when confronted by a UN police advisor, they allowed the chaos to continue.
As we ran for our lives once again, I could see the UN policeman running just as hard ahead of me. It said everything about what's gone wrong with the UN mission that just a few days ago had offered such hope to the people of East Timor.