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Last Updated: Friday, 30 March 2007, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
Poll violence flares in E Timor
Rally for Fretilin party in Liquisa on 27 March
The Fretilin party said it did not begin the violence
Gangs linked to rival political parties have clashed in East Timor, leaving at least 20 people hurt, officials said.

The violence flared on Thursday in Viqueque, 220km (135 miles) from Dili, after a rally by presidential candidate and current PM Jose Ramos-Horta.

His supporters scuffled with rivals from the Fretilin party of ousted PM Mari Alkatiri, police said.

It is thought to be the first violence related to the presidential poll, due to be held on 9 April.


Two of the injured were police officers, hospital officials said.

It was unclear what started the clash.

Fretilin spokesman Filomeno Aleixo told the Associated Press news agency his party did not begin the violence.

"Whoever was involved in this incident should be brought to justice," he said.

Eight candidates are undertaking rallies across the country's 13 districts until two days before the election, when there will be a blackout period.

They are seeking to replace incumbent President Xanana Gusmao, who is not standing again.

The presidential election is the first since the country's independence in 2002.

Factional fighting flared last year after Mr Alkatiri dismissed 600 soldiers, splitting the armed forces.

Thousands of international troops were deployed to curb the violence.

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