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U.N. Troops Fired on in East Timor

March 3, 2000

DILI, East Timor (AP) _ International peacekeepers in East Timor came under fire four times in a 24-hour period this week in what a U.N. military spokesman described Friday as ``a deliberate and coordinated effort″ by pro-Indonesia militias.

There were no casualties in the incidents, which occurred between Wednesday and Thursday, and the U.N. troops did not return fire, said Lt. Col. Brynjar Nymo.

The United Nations claimed the attacks were carried out by pro-Jakarta militiamen who fled to West Timor last September after having destroyed much of East Timor. The rampages followed East Timor’s overwhelming vote for independence from Indonesia in a U.N.-sponsored referendum.

Nymo said the four incidents may have been meant to test the resolve and vigilance of the U.N. troops, who last month took over responsibility for security from the Australian-led international force that landed on the island on Sept. 20.

The first incident occurred near the border crossing of Batugade, shortly before midnight Wednesday. Australian troops reported hearing 30 to 40 rounds fired near the post, but did not find the attackers in the dense vegetation.

About half an hour later, 30 miles to the south, New Zealand troops were fired upon near another crossing point. The soldiers reported hearing seven bursts of automatic fire and single shots.

Within an hour, Australian troops at the border crossing at Memo, halfway between the other two posts, reported being fired at from Indonesian-held West Timor.

A helicopter on a border reconnaissance mission was also fired at from West Timor.

``The peacekeeping force clearly assess (the) first three cases as a deliberate and coordinated effort,″ Nymo said.

``We are concerned of the fact that apparently groups of militia freely can cross the border without the (Indonesian army) being able to interfere or stop this activity.″

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