Multinational force sent to East Timor

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: 2006 East Timor crisis

After the breakdown of law and order in the world's newest nation, East Timor's Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos Horta has requested military assistance from Australia, New Zealand, Portugal and Malaysia. The force would "disarm renegade troops and police rebelling against the state" and "...Australia and New Zealand will come soon" Mr Horta said to reporters.

The first troops from Australia's 1300 strong commitment to East Timor, which also includes three ships, helicopters and armoured personnel carriers, will likely arrive in East Timor by this afternoon, having been on standby in recent weeks in preparation for such a possibility. Two of the Royal Australian Navy's amphibious landing ships, HMAS Kanimbla and Manoora, are currently heading north to East Timor with troops on board, and the rest of Australia's 1300 strong task force would likely arrive in the next 48 hours. Approximately 120 Portuguese military police and 60 police and troops from New Zealand would join them. Australia may also send troops from 4 RAR (Commandos) and SASR from Holsworthy, NSW and Perth respectively.

The uprising in East Timor has resulted from the firing of nearly 600 East Timorese soldiers who went on strike, alleging ethnic discrimination and poor pay and conditions. They are led by the highest ranking officer in the renegade force, Australian-trained Major Alfredo Reinado, who East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao has vowed to hunt down, and who will undoubtedly be an important target for the Australian task force entering an ill-defined Area of Operations (AO) where East Timorese government forces have been battling the renegade troops and police.

Foreign minister Ramos-Horta told the ABC that he hoped foreign forces would not have to engage the renegade East Timorese troops but would have "an immediate calming effect throughout the country" and "encourage political dialogue."

Sources

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