East Timor descends into further violence: Downer

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

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

On Tuesday Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer (Division of Mayo, Liberal) told parliament that the government has received fresh reports of violence in East Timor.

Mr. Downer told the Australian House of Representatives that he has received fresh reports of violence erupting in parts of the East Timorese capital, Dili, as well as other parts of the nation.

According to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), there were shootouts near Becora and Fatuahi on Tuesday involving the East Timorese military and militia.

Violence erupted in East Timor in April 2006 following the dismissal of 585 East Timorese soldiers for deserting. On April 28, 2006, five people were killed in violent clashes in Dili. An independent commission has been setup by the East Timorese government to investigate complaints by the dismissed soldiers. Mr. Downer urged the commission to "conclude its work quickly as a first step to the resolution of the current crisis".

Mr. Downer said that he had made it clear to the East Timorese government that Australia will assist in East Timor if requested. He said that the Australian military have a rapid response team, consisting of naval ships, aircraft and troops deployed in Northern Australia ready to go to East Timor if requested.

DFAT is advising Australians not to travel to East Timor due to what it calls an "extremely dangerous security situation". It advises that those who are already in East Timor consider leaving.

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