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Former soldiers' protest turns violent in Dili

There has been a violent protest involving former soldiers in the East Timorese capital Dili.

The former soldiers, wearing full army uniforms, were joined by hundreds of angry and unemployed youths.

The march began peacefully but soon turned into a violent ethnic clash as protesters attacked a market run by stall holders from the country's eastern regions.

Dili is bracing for further violence with protesters saying they will march for the next three days.

Nearly 600 soldiers from the western regions were dismissed last month after they went absent without leave, complaining their commanders were favouring eastern soldiers.

East Timorese Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta said earlier this month that the Government was in the process of setting up a panel to review the soldiers' complaints.

"They are not going to be brought back into the army, except on a case-by-case basis when we establish the responsibilities of each individual in this whole incident," he said.

The east was the key centre of resistance for the Indonesian occupation and many of its guerilla commanders now hold powerful positions in the military.




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