East Timor: UN forces swoop on pro-Indonesia guerrilla unit

BRITISH AND Australian special forces, working in collaboration with East Timorese guerrillas, have arrested 20 anti-independence paramilitaries in the peace-keeping force's first armed confrontation with pro-Indonesian forces.

The incident occurred on Monday evening in the far eastern reaches of East Timor. Some 40 soldiers from the rapid reaction force of the International Force East Timor (Interfet) flew to the remote port of Com, where armed militia men had been terrorising local people. Twenty members of the notorious Team Alpha group were seized, with a cache of weapons.

The rapid reaction force includes members of the British Special Boat Service and the Australian Special Air Service. Having arrived on the scene in Blackhawk helicopters, the Interfet troops warned the militia men to lay down their weapons or be fired upon. They surrendered without a shot being fired and yesterday they were being interrogated in the East Timorese capital, Dili.

The dramatic chain of events began on Sunday, when a group of East Timorese Catholics were murdered as they travelled between Baucau and Los Palos in East Timor's remote Lautem regency. At least nine people, including an Italian and Timorese nun, two deacons and a trainee priest were reported to have been killed in a Team Alpha ambush.

Guerrillas of the Falintil independence army set out to recover the bodies and became involved in a gun battle in which 13 paramilitary members were killed. After a later confrontation at the port of Com, Falintil telephoned Interfet, which dispatched the helicopters in the evening. "The Interfet force came in when it was asked, and 13 guns were captured along with 20 militia men," a spokesman for the Falintil field commander, Taur Matan Ruak, told The Independent by phone from his headquarters in the mountain village of Waimori.

The operation represents the first active collaboration between the multinational force and Falintil. Its success will deflect mounting criticism of Interfet for being too cautious in its deployment, which is largely confined to Dili. Earlier on Monday, the force made its first significant foray into militia-dominated territory, when 150 Australian soldiers travelled to the town of Liquisa, 20 kilometres from Dili. Two machine-gun nests were found in the hills above the town.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions