Dawn landing for first wave of peace-keepers
EAST TIMOR CRISIS Australian general warns Indonesia that his initial 2,500 troops will `respond robustly' to any renewed violence by militias
Monday 20 September 1999
By late afternoon, 2,500 soldiers - most of them Australian, but also including 250 British Royal Gurkha Rifles - are expected to have arrived in Dili by air and sea. They will be followed by 10 helicopters and a naval ship transporting supplies and armoured personnel carriers.
The deployment of peacekeeping troops in the world's latest trouble spot follows a resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council last week giving Interfet, the International Force for East Timor, a robust mandate to restore law and order.
The next few weeks will see the force swell to up to 8,000 troops from 20 countries. Much of East Timor is devastated after militia groups opposed to independence embarked on an orgy of bloodshed, looting and burning.
The first wave of troops, due to land in Dili at 6.30am (23.30 British Summer Time), is likely to comprise several hundred soldiers from Australia's Rapid Deployment Force, based in Townsville, north Queensland. They are expected to secure the airport ahead of the arrival of the main contingent from Darwin, staging-post for the force, 420 miles to the south.
The force is led by Australia's Major-General Peter Cosgrove, who paid a brief visit to Dili yesterday to secure guarantees of co-operation from Indonesian army commanders. He warned that Interfet was ready "to respond robustly" to any violence.
"This is not a time for idle threats or words," he said after touring the ruined streets of Dili. "We will be here to ensure that all East Timorese are able to go about their business free of threat." Major-General Kiki Syahnakri, commander of the Indonesian forces in East Timor, said the army would hand over control of the province in a few days' time.
The militias - with renegade elements in the Indonesian army - are the wild card as the multinational force lands in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony invaded by Indonesia in 1975.
The head of the force's British contingent, Brigadier David Richards, said yesterday of Indonesia's TNI army: "We expect co-operation, at least formally, although we are alive to the fact that at a lower level we should be prepared for anything."
The prospect that the tide is about to turn for luckless East Timor was signalled by the arrival in Darwin from Jakarta yesterday of the East Timorese independence leader, Jose Alexandre "Xanana" Gusmao, who began drawing up plans for a transitional government for the province.
Among the troops deployed today will be representatives of other countries that have pledged troops, including Thailand, which has supplied the deputy commander of the force. The force will be supported by nine warships from Britain, Australia and New Zealand which sailed out of Darwin on Saturday.
International aid agencies are waiting to follow in the footsteps of the force, to begin a full-scale relief operation on the ground. So far, aid has largely been restricted to food drops from the air.
- 1 Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
- 2 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 3 Nick Kyrgios calls former Olympian Dawn Fraser a 'blatant racist' after she tells Wimbledon star to 'go back where their parents came from'
- 4 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
Man who was struck and killed by lightning in Brecon Beacons 'was carrying a selfie stick'
Greece debt crisis as it happened: EU chiefs at loggerheads hours before Alexis Tsipras’s last ditch deal proposals
Bakery sends 'horrific' version of Frozen-themed birthday cake to unsuspecting customer
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
Greece debt crisis: Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande issue Athens with 24-hour ultimatum to avoid crashing out of the euro
Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...