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Tuesday, 26 September, 2000, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
UN troops kill Timor militiaman
Soldiers
Indonesian soldiers are accused of backing Timorese militias
The United Nations in East Timor says a pro-Jakarta militiaman has been killed in a clash with New Zealand peacekeepers operating in the former Indonesian-controlled province.


They were moving in an aggressive manner, with their weapons raised

Joint Force Commander Brigadier Jerry Mataparae
A spokesman for the UN said that there were no casualties on the New Zealand side during the exchange of gunfire close to the border with Indonesian West Timor.

According to reports the militia were seen to be wearing Indonesian military uniforms.

"They were moving in an aggressive manner, with their weapons raised and the shots were fired and at the completion of the contact," Joint Force Commander Brigadier Jerry Mataparae told Radio New Zealand.

The clash comes a day ahead of a deadline imposed by the Indonesian authorities for the militia to hand in their weapons.

Weapons
Indonesia says it is serious about weapons seizures
The militia gangs devastated East Timor last year after the territory overwhelmingly voted in a UN-organised ballot to end Indonesian rule.

Jakarta has come under strong international pressure to disband the militia groups, which have been blamed for killing three UN aid workers in West Timor earlier this month.

However, the head of the UN operation in East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, has condemned Indonesia's approach to disarming the militias as "pathetic".

Handover ceremony

He was speaking in the wake of a weapons handover ceremony on Sunday which ended in a riot with militia members taking back the weapons they had handed in, and UN observers fleeing to East Timor.

Refugees
Tens of thousands of refugees remain trapped in West Timor
Jakarta has said that it will send in the army and police to seize militia weapons by force if they are not surrendered by midnight local time on Wednesday.

The move follows warnings from, among others, the US Government and the World Bank that much needed aid will be at risk if Indonesia fails to reign in the militias.

Aid agencies say militia gangs are preventing 120,000 East Timorese refugees, languishing in squalid camps in Indonesian-controlled West Timor, from returning home.

Sunday's violence began when militia members in Atambua demanded the return of their weapons after Indonesia's visiting Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri refused to speak with them about their future.

Militiamen attacked policemen, grabbed 13 automatic rifles they had earlier surrendered, then threatened to shoot security officers.

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See also:

25 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia arms crackdown 'pathetic'
22 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia begins arms crackdown
20 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia rejects UN West Timor mission
18 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Cohen warning over West Timor militias
30 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
East Timor marks year of freedom
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