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Indonesian General Denies Charges

April 11, 2000

DILI, East Timor (AP) _ The general who led the withdrawal of Indonesian forces from East Timor denied today that his troops were training militiamen to return to the former Indonesian territory.

``I would like to say categorically that the training of (militiamen) does not exist,″ Maj. Gen. Kiki Syahnakri said.

Indonesian troops and their militia auxiliaries in East Timor went on a bloody rampage following a U.N.-sponsored independence vote last August. The violence, in which most of the half-island province was devastated, ended after the arrival of international peacekeepers on Sept. 20.

Since then, there has been a spate of border incidents involving incursions by small gangs of heavily armed militiamen into East Timor. The United Nations, which is administering East Timor in its transition to independence, has repeatedly urged Indonesia to clamp down on the militias.

Syahnakri, who now commands a military district that includes the western half of Timor island, acknowledged the existence in West Timor of clandestine bands of pro-integration extremists. But he said the Indonesian government did not support the use of violence by these groups.

He said he had proposed to open Atambua, the border town in West Timor where the training is allegedly taking place, to U.N. liaison officers. In his first trip back to East Timor, Syahnakri said he also had recommended the establishment of joint border posts and patrols to prevent further incursions.

U.N. negotiator Peter Galbraith said Syahnakri’s recommendations were not acceptable because ``the problem is not a problem with the Indonesian army, not a problem with the border, the problem is infiltration from inside West Timor to inside East Timor.″

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