quinta-feira, 8 de março de 2007

Posted at 8:59pm on 07 Mar 2007

The government has confirmed that a platoon of New Zealand troops was part of an attempt to capture East Timor rebel leader Alfredo Reinado on Sunday.

Australian soldiers continue to search in the southern part of East Timor for Reinado, who escaped the attack on his hideout at Same, 50km south of the capital Dili.

Five people died in the raid according to the latest information from the Australian government.

Reinado has been at large since he escaped from prison in Dili in August along with 50 other inmates. He was involved in fighting last year when the sacking of some of the army and regional differences plunged the nation into chaos. International troops were requested to restore order.

President Xanana Gusmao ordered security forces to arrest Reinado after the former army major led a raid on a police post late last month and made off with 25 automatic weapons and ammunition.

After Australian-led forces surrounded the rebels last Tuesday, Reinado vowed a fight to the death. He told Morning Report last Thursday that he would rather die than surrender.

Thousands of rebel supporters protested against the attack in Dili on Monday.

Dili quiet

The capital was reported to be quiet but tense the following day. New Zealand Defence Minister, Phil Goff, said on Tuesday that the situation in the area where New Zealand troops are operating in East Timor is largely under control.

A Reuters witness in Dili said New Zealand troops were patrolling areas considered riot-prone.

Unrest in Timor last May caused 150,000 to flee their homes and led to the dispatch of international peacekeepers from Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Portugal. A state of emergency was declared before their arrival.

The unrest was due to an east-west divide and gang violence following the sacking of 600 soldiers.

Presidential elections are scheduled to be held on 9 April 2007.

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