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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 April 2006, 13:35 GMT 14:35 UK
E Timor troops riot over sacking
A protester is led away after riots in East Timor
Police led away protesters they thought were involved in rioting
Hundreds of former East Timorese soldiers have rioted in protest at their dismissal from the army.

On the third day of demonstrations in the capital Dili, soldiers and their supporters threw missiles at buildings and market stalls.

Nearly 600 soldiers went absent without leave last month to protest against their working conditions and what they called favouritism in promotions.

The government sacked them all - about a third of the total defence force.

East Timor police chief Paulo de Fatima Martins said dozens of former soldiers broke away from the rally on Wednesday and started throwing stones at buildings and attacking market stalls with sticks.

Hundreds of police from nearby towns were called in, he told the Associated Press, and five people were arrested.

It was not clear if they were soldiers or civilian protesters.

Resentment

Some of the demonstrators invaded houses, the AFP news agency reported.

"I was with my sleeping child when the house was suddenly attacked by people, some wearing fatigues," homeowner Lorenca Miranda said.

"I also saw three policemen in the area run away when the attack was taking place," she said.

The soldiers - many of them from western districts of the country - originally left their posts because they believed they were missing out on promotion to colleagues from the east, according to protest leader Gastao Salsinha.

Many of the troops, who are veterans of the 25-year fight for independence from Indonesia, feel they have not been given the recognition they deserve for their past sacrifices, say analysts.

East Timor's foreign minister said the government would review some of the soldiers' complaints on a case-by-case basis.

The dismissal of nearly 600 soldiers is a serious blow to the army, which numbers only about 1,400 personnel.

A recent UN report said that although East Timor had made some impressive gains in recent years, it also had deeply entrenched problems and is the poorest country in the region.


SEE ALSO:
E Timor sacks hundreds of troops
17 Mar 06 |  Asia-Pacific
E Timor 'poor and getting poorer'
09 Mar 06 |  Asia-Pacific
E Timor tells troops to end strike
01 Mar 06 |  Asia-Pacific
UN peacekeepers leave East Timor
20 May 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: East Timor
30 Dec 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: East Timor
21 Jan 06 |  Country profiles


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