UN police hurt in fresh Timor violence
UN New Service
TIMOR-LESTE: UN ENVOY APPEALS TO POPULATION TO FULLY BACK PEACEKEEPING EFFORTS
New York, Feb 21 2007 2:00PM
Responding to increasing violence in the
Timor-Leste capital of Dili, the United Nations
envoy to the impoverished country today urged the
population to fully support the security efforts
of the UN and local police, as well as those of
the International Security Forces (ISF), as they
try to bring stability ahead of this year’s landmark elections.
The Special Representative of the
Secretary-General Atul Khare, who heads the UN
Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), said
UN Police (UNPOL) and ISF have put more personnel
onto the capital’s streets in the past 24 hours.
During this period, seven UN Police officers had
been injured and several UN vehicles damaged.
“I would sincerely appeal to the people of
Timor-Leste, and particularly the residents of
Dili, to give your support to the UNPOL officers,
PNTL (National Police of Timor-Leste) officers
and the International Security Forces (ISF) who
are working hard to improve and stabilize the
situation,” Mr. Khare said in a statement issued in Dili.
Earlier today, he visited the three main hotspots
in the capital, Kampung Baru, Bairro Pite and
Fatuhada, and this follows a visit on Tuesday
accompanied by Timorese Minister of the Interior
Alcino Barris. Yesterday, UNPOL arrested around
80 offenders and made more arrests today.
“UNPOL will continue to take strong actions
against all those who indulge in violence or
otherwise act contrary to the applicable laws of
Timor-Leste...I believe that the people of
Timor-Leste deserve better,” said Mr. Khare.
Last week, Mr. Khare was in New York where he
briefed the Security Council on Timor-Leste,
backing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for
more international police during this year’s
elections, as well as for an extension of UNMIT’s
mandate, set to expire on 25 February, for
another year. Timorese Prime Minister José
Ramos-Horta, also spoke to the 15-member Council
in support of the one-year extension.
The first round of the presidential election is
scheduled for 9 April, with the parliamentary
election to be held later. These will be the
first polls held in the tiny nation since it
gained independence from Indonesia in 2002.
The Council created UNMIT in August 2006 to help
restore order after deadly fighting, attributed
to differences between eastern and western
regions, broke out in April and May and caused
the deaths of at least 37 people and forced about
155,000 others or 15 per cent of the population to flee their homes.
UN police hurt in fresh Timor violence
From correspondents in Dili
February 21, 2007
SEVEN international UN police officers were
injured today in fresh violence in the East Timor
capital, the UN envoy to the troubled country said.
Police have stepped up patrols to tighten
security following a recent increase in violence, Atul Khare said.
"Several UNPol vehicles have been damaged in
these operations. Seven UNPol officers have also
been injured today (Wednesday) in the cause of
maintaining law and order in Timor Leste," he said.
Mr Khare gave no details of how they were
injured, but said several UN vehicles had also
been the target of stone throwing on the streets of Dili.
"The UNPol, along with the International Security
Forces, have been increasing security on the
streets of Dili over the past 24 hours," Mr Khare
said, adding that officers had been reassigned from desk jobs to the street.
UN police arrested 79 people yesterday, he said,
warning of tough action against those involved in
the latest outbreaks of street violence to hit
Dili since major unrest in April and May last year left 37 dead.
The street violence, mostly between members of
rival martial arts gangs, had beset Dili for the past two weeks, he said.
Last year, a protest by disgruntled soldiers
rapidly degenerated into clashes between rival
security forces and gang wars on the streets of
the capital that prompted the deployment of an
Australian-led international peacekeeping force.
The UN has deployed some 1300 police to help restore order.
Mr Khare has warned against an early UN
withdrawal and called for the deployment of more
heavily armed police to safeguard upcoming
presidential elections on April 9, with parliamentary polls to follow.