East Timor: Soldiers discover 30 bodies dumped in well

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AN INTERNATIONAL team of peace-keepers discovered a mass grave and a suspected torture chamber in Dili yesterday as the first solid evidence emerged of atrocities committed by pro-Indonesian militias in East Timor.

As many as 30 bodies are believed to lie in a well behind the home of Manuel Carrascalao, a prominent pro-independence activist. Mr Carrascalao's house was taken over by the Aitarak militia four months ago, after Eurico Guterres, the leader of the pro-Indonesian militia group, ordered his men to go to war with the Carrascalao family. The same day, 100 of his men stormed Mr Carrascalao's house, killing 12 people, including his 18- year-old son.

Yesterday, Australian troops found dried blood and meat hooks in the garden near the well. Locals said they believed the torture victims had been suspended on the hooks and cut up before being dumped in the well. Clothes were scattered around the garden. A woman's battered body was on top of the stack of corpses in the well. Her head had been severed.

The discovery came just hours after the killing on Tuesday night of a Dutch journalist, Sander Thoenes, by six Indonesian soldiers as he rode on the back of a motorbike through the town of Becora, a few kilometres from Dili. The Indonesian soldiers, travelling in the opposite direction on three motorbikes, opened fire with automatic rifles on Thoenes and Florindo da Conceiao Araujo, who was driving the bike. Florindo managed to escape.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Indonesian troops due to leave the territory soon were vandalising military and other buildings, amid strong indications that Indonesia's military commander in East Timor, Major-General Kiki Syahnakri, would not be able to stop revenge attacks by angry troops.

Major S Ahmed, of Indonesia's 521 Battalion, said on the eve of his 1,000 troops withdrawing: "You just wait ... all hell will break loose."

Apart from destroying buildings, the Indonesian soldiers have been loading tons of furniture, food and other goods on trucks and ships bound for West Timor. Indonesian soldiers were also involved in a clash with pro- independence guerrillas yesterday. The leader of the independence fighters, Tuar Matan Ruak, said his forces had killed 12 Indonesian soldiers and injured two others in the west of the island. He said truck loads of Indonesian troops, which Jakarta says have begun a phased withdrawal, were being switched from Suai in the south to prevent thousands of refugees from returning to their homes.

The guerrilla chief said the situation in much of East Timor was "still complicated" with acts of violence continuing by the militias and elements of the Indonesian army.

In East Timor's second city, Baucau, the destruction was continuing, he said, despite the presence of some international troops. "The destruction of houses and the burning continues. This is being done by the TNI [Indonesian military] and not just the militias," he added.

Yesterday, Britain told Indonesia the only way of restoring its standing was to co-operate in increasing relief to East Timor, speeding the territory's transition to independence, and bringing to book those responsible for war crimes.

The warning was delivered by the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, at a meeting at the United Nations with his Indonesian opposite, Ali Alatas. Mr Cook said the militias must be fully disbanded in both West and East Timor.