Army of East Timor calls UN police action a coup

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

This is a satellite picture of both Indonesian West Timor, and independent East Timor
Source: NASA

The latest outbreak of violence has caused the death of at least two people according to the United Nations, as hundreds of people engaged in fighting near Díli's airport since Tuesday night. There is a fear that the violence will dramatically escalate after a martial arts gang leader was executed on a Díli street, where for weeks rival gangs have fought fiercely.

State television goes off the air

The national telvision network went off the air last night, just as the East Timor army was preparing to address the nation declaring its troops should no longer be confined to barracks because of the lawlessness.

The feeling amongst the army's top brass is that the earlier forced resignation of former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri in June amounted to a coup and that it should be investigated.

This latest unrest began on Sunday, sparked by a UN report which blamed the former Prime Minister for the factional violence earlier this year that killed more than 30 people.

Australians caught up in the violence

UN spokesman, Adrian Edwards, told reporters that the situation was volatile. "We've seen ... reports of people being injured and some being brought to the hospital," he said. "We've also heard reports of possible other fatalities, but those are not confirmed at the moment. "We're waiting to see, once we get a clearer picture of them. "But right at the moment, I think the operations to bring it under control are ongoing." Australian soldiers shot at a man today; he escaped unharmed.

An Australian citizen had to be flown back home to Darwin Hospital, after suffering injuries. Australia's Foreign Affairs Department has warned Australians to exercise extreme caution if they go to Timor, and that Australians or Australian interests could be targeted.