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U.N. Troops Kill Timor Militiaman

October 25, 2000

DILI, East Timor (AP) _ New Zealand peacekeepers in East Timor killed an anti-independence militiaman and were searching for two others, a U.N. military spokesman said Wednesday.

Tuesday night’s clash was the latest in series of confrontations between militia gangs and U.N. peacekeepers in East Timor near the border with Indonesian-controlled West Timor.

Peacekeeper spokesman Capt. Mike Tafe said three armed militiamen approached the New Zealand patrol, which had camped about four miles northeast of the southern border town of Suai.

``The armed militiamen approached the New Zealanders in a tactical manner, the way a professional military would,″ Tafe said. He said shots were exchanged. The peacekeepers fired a Minimi machine gun and Steyr rifles before throwing a grenade and detonating a Claymore anti-personnel explosive.

No peacekeepers were injured. The body of the dead militiaman was discovered at first light Wednesday. Investigators were at the scene.

Tafe said troops were tracking the other two men through the dense, mountainous terrain near the border with West Timor, which has been used as a springboard for attacks into East Timor by anti-independence militia gangs.

The militias, which were backed by some sections of the Indonesian military, went on a rampage of violence and destruction more than a year ago after the East Timorese people voted for independence from Indonesia in a U.N.-supervised ballot. International troops landed in the half-island nation to restore peace and security and forced the militias over the border into West Timor.

Since then, militia gangs have used a string of refugee camps in West Timor as safe havens and bases for border incursions.

The United Nations has demanded that Indonesia disarm the gangs. Jakarta has confiscated some weapons, but critics claim the militias are still well armed.

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