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Friday, 22 September, 2000, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
Indonesia begins arms crackdown
Militiamen
Timorese militias have four days to hand in weapons
By Mark Bowling in Jakarta

Indonesia has begun a crackdown on arms both in the capital, Jakarta, and in West Timor, where pro-Jakarta militias are being called on to give up their weapons after being blamed for the murder of three UN aid workers.

The militias have been given four days to voluntarily hand in weapons, after that, Indonesia's military has promised to seize arms.

Indonesian soldiers close to the border with East Timor say they have been told that militiamen are ready to surrender their firearms and a small number of weapons have already been handed over.

On Tuesday, Indonesia's coordinating minister for politics and security affairs, Bambong Yudhoyono, gave a disarmament pledge to the UN Security Council, promising that a voluntary hand-in of weapons would take place.

After that the Indonesian military would conduct raids in a bid to disarm the militias.

Hacked to death

Bomb blast
A series of bomb attacks have brought terror to the Indonesian capital
The crackdown follows international outrage early this month when the militias hacked to death three foreigners working for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in the West Timor border town of Atambua.

More than 400 aid workers were evacuated from the province following the attack.

Their job had been to coordinate relief efforts to more than 100,000 East Timorese refugees living in squalid camps in West Timor.

Indonesian authorities accept that disarming the militias and a return to security is a first step towards resettling the refugees, either across the border in their new independent homeland or elsewhere in Indonesia.

Jakarta blasts

In the Indonesian capital, police and soldiers are also carrying out an arms crackdown, searching for illegal weapons and explosive devices after a series of bomb explosions.

The worst blast rocked the Jakarta stock exchange nine days ago, killing 15 people.

The government says the bomb attacks could be linked to efforts to destabilise the ongoing corruption trial of former President Suharto.

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See also:

20 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia rejects UN West Timor mission
18 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Cohen warning over West Timor militias
11 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia pledges to disarm militias
14 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Five quizzed over Jakarta blast
30 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
East Timor marks year of freedom
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