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Sporadic attacks: Political tensions continue in East Timor

Sporadic attacks: Political tensions continue in East Timor (Reuters)

Australian commander meets E Timor rebel leader

The commander of Australian troops in East Timor, Brigadier Mick Slater, has met with the leader of around 600 soldiers sacked from the country's defence forces.

Major Alfredo Reinado and his followers are taking refuge in the hills south of Dili.

Brigadier Slater flew by helicopter to the luxury hotel on a mountain top at Ailue, where Lieutenant Commander Alfredo Reinado is holed up with several dozen armed military policemen.

The commander, who calls himself Major Reinado, has called for the sacking of Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

Major Reinado says Mr Alkatiri must be brought to trial for the killings of several of his followers.

Up to 600 sacked members of the security forces are thought to be in hiding around the capital, many of them armed.

But Mt Alkatiri, widely blamed for the unrest that followed his sacking of the soldiers, has flatly rejected calls to step down and demanded that rebel forces hand in their weapons.

"I will not resign," Mr Alkatiri said in an interview with AFP.

"There should be a decision by the irregular forces to hand in their weapons and I hope they will participate to help solve this whole problem, this crisis."

Major Reinado says Mr Alkatiri should face an investigation for the killings of nine unarmed police by members of the military.

The massacre was apparently the worst single incident of the chaos that has gripped the tiny Asian nation leaving 21 dead, tens of thousands fleeing from their homes and more than 2,000 foreign peacekeepers on the streets.

Countless homes and businesses were burned and looted as military clashes gave way to violence by gangs of masked youths armed with everything from swords to bows and arrows.

Public transport and taxis returned to the streets on Friday, lending the capital an air of normality for the first time in days.

However sporadic attacks continued with hundreds of people raiding a government warehouse and making off with computers, copy paper and other equipment.

Media reporting

An academic at the University of New England, in northern New South Wales, believes the media's reporting of the events in East Timor could be contributing to unrest in the region.

Senior university lecturer Bob Boughton says the media coverage in recent weeks has helped to create mistrust amongst the East Timorese people towards their own Government.

He says this is leading to increased levels of suspicion and violence.

"When you have a society where you have very high rates of illiteracy, then you have to be very careful about what messages are being sent into that society and how people are going to understand things," he said.

 

Related Links Related Links

Timeline: Unrest in East Timor

Key dates in East Timor's journey to independence and subsequent unrest.

In pictures: Crisis in East Timor

Pictures of the unrest in East Timor.

 



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A government warehouse has been raided in East Timor, as unrest continues on the streets of the capital, Dili.

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Australia is considering sending more police to East Timor to add to the 71 federal police officers it has already sent.

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