Five die in Timor clashes
JAKARTA: Fresh violence that killed up to five people broke out in East Timor on the eve of scheduled talks between Jakarta and Lisbon on the future of the former Portuguese colony annexed by Indonesia in 1976.
Violence broke out in Baucau town, 115 kilometres east of the territory's capital, Dili, following the stabbing to death of an East Timorese by a migrant trader at a town market.
Armando Ximenes, 17, was stabbed to death during a brawl involving several people at Baucau market on Sunday.
The Jakarta Post yesterday identified the killer as 26-year-old Cole, alias Rusli, a trader originating from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
Hundreds of East Timorese residents, most of them youths, were angered by Ximenes' death and went on the rampage, burning stalls and damaging vehicles.
A similar incident took place in Dili in November, when a South Sulawesi migrant stabbed an East Timorese trader to death at the Dili market, triggering three days of unrest there.
The Baucau unrest came just a week ahead of the planned fifth round of talks between the foreign ministers of Portugal and Indonesia under the auspices of the UN secretary-general, Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
The series of dialogues between Indonesia and Portugal are being sponsored by the UN - which does not recognise Indonesia's annexation of the territory - in an bid to find an acceptable settlement.
The Dili unrest and a 10-day-long occupation of the US embassy in Jakarta by East Timorese youths in November, had already put the spotlight on the problems in East Timor.
On Sunday, Portuguese President Mario Soares reiterated Lisbon's longstanding position that the people of East Timor had been deprived of the right to self-determination.
The following day, the Portuguese news agency Lusa reported that jailed East Timorese opposition leader Xanana Gusmao had called on Indonesia to allow the holding of a referendum on the future of the territory.
The call was contained in Gusmao's New Year message, which was reportedly smuggled out of his prison cell. Gusmao, 48, is serving a 20-year jail term at Jakarta's Cipinang jail.
Jakarta has ruled out holding any referendum in East Timor.
Reliable sources in Dili said that in this week's unrest, a group of East Timorese youths attacked and injured a military officer in the old part of Baucau.
Security troops shot four people dead after unsuccessfully trying to disperse the mob with warning shots fired in the air, they added.
But church sources said that the troops, members of the 745 battalion composed of East Timorese, shot at youths grouping near Baucau's parochial church, and killed one.
A military statement on the incident made no mention of fatal casualties other than that of Ximenes, but said that 11 members of the security forces and six local residents had been wounded by flying rocks during the unrest.