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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 July 2006, 06:03 GMT 07:03 UK
East Timor rebel leader detained
Alfredo Reinado (left) hands weapon to Australian soldier - 16/6/06
Alfredo Reinado was the first rebel leader to hand in arms
One of the leaders of a rebellion by East Timor's security forces has been detained by Australian peacekeepers.

Major Alfredo Reinado, the first rebel leader to hand in weapons as tensions subsided in June, was one of more than 20 people held.

Australian peacekeepers said the arrested men were found with illegal weapons, after a deadline passed for handing in guns.

Violence in May left 21 people dead and forced thousands to flee their homes.

It also led to the resignation of Mari Alkatiri as prime minister, and his replacement by Nobel peace laureate Jose Ramos Horta, who will stay in office until elections due in May next year.

A spokesman for the Australian peacekeepers, Major James Baker, told reporters that Australian troops detained the suspects overnight in connection with nine hand guns.

"Those individuals were taken into detention and they will appear in a court," he said, according to the AFP agency.

Australia is leading a 2,500-strong peacekeeping force in East Timor, which was sent in at the height of the violence.

But Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said on Wednesday that Australia's contribution was likely to be reduced.

"We are planning to reduce our numbers fairly soon, as soon as we can, but pulling them out altogether is going to depend very much on the situation on the ground," he said.




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