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Oecussi Border Incidents Continue on Tuesday and Wednesday

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Two incidents occurred inside the enclave of Oecussi, in West Timor, on Tuesday and Wednesday, possibly leaving one East Timorese injured. In the last 72 hours there were five militia incursions across the border, according to Interfet.
On Tuesday afternoon, near the village of Mahata, an Interfet patrol came across five militia carrying rifles. "From a distance of approximately 200 meters, the militias were seen raising their rifles in a threatening manner. The Interfet patrol fired six quick shots, causing the militia to run to the border. It is unclear at this stage whether there were already casualties suffered by the militia," said Colonel Bruce Armstrong, Chief of Staff of Interfet.

And this morning, near Bobometo, a group of five militia "crossed the border to harass the local East Timorese," said the colonel. Interfet was waiting for details, but according to Armstrong, "the locals stood up to them, the militia were armed, had rifles and shots were fired". It is believed that at least one local East Timorese was injured.

Due to the security incidents of the last days near border crossings in the Oecussi enclave, UNHCR postponed repatriation convoys.

Around 300 East Timorese are presently registered for repatriation to the enclave. UNHCR and IOM (international Organisation for Migration) will start repatriation convoys under Interfet escort as soon as security situation allows it.

The movement of East Timorese from the enclave is also postponed. About 250 people were scheduled to move this Thursday overland with UNHCR from Oecussi to Dili and Liquica, having first being repatriated from Kefa in West Timor.

Around 14.000 East Timorese have returned to the Oecussi since October, more than half of them spontaneously.

In a separate development, UNICEF is sending reconstruction material to Oecussi to rebuild four schools in the enclave.

Dili Disturbances -18 and 19 January

UN CIVPOL officers were called in last night in Bairro Pite (a Dili suburb) when a fight broke out between two groups of youths. When a group of Falintil members tried to calm the situation the youths turned against them and stoned a Falintil office. One Falintil member was hit on the head with a stone and taken to the ICRC hospital for treatment.

Today, one of the youths who allegedly instigated where he was recognised as one of the instigators of last night's violence, and confronted by an angry crowd of local residents. This led to the unrest that involved two groups totalling around 300 people, some of which brandished machetes, knives and sticks.

The unrest lasted for several tense hours during which Interfet cordoned the suburb.

No arrests were made, but UNTAET CIVPOL confiscated twelve machetes, knives and clubs, and a radio set used for communication within one group during the fighting.

The situation was calmed ultimately when CNRT President Xanana Gusmao addressed the crowd. Mr. Gusmao came to the scene straight from the NCC meeting he was attending at the UNTAET HQ.

NCC

In the first day of the fourth meeting of the NCC ( National Consultative Council), there was good progress made towards some regulations that are expected to be adopted tomorrow. The regulations are on the establishment of a Civil Service Commission and on macroeconomic issues. The meeting will resume tomorrow (20 January 2000) .

Dili Museum

Following arrangements by UNTAET's Public Administration Pillar, a team of experts from the Darwin Art Museum will arrive in Dili on Friday, January the 21st, to start the process of protection and classification of the art pieces found in November by Interfet troops on the grounds of the former Dili Museum.

The art pieces, about two hundred, include paintings, pottery, handcraft pieces, wood and stone carvings, and many documents. Currently, they are stored in two shades outside the building, now the Interfet Hospital.

The Dili Museum had the only publicly owned art collection of East Timor.

The Darwin Art Museum team includes James Bennett, curator of South East Asian Art, Sophie Iussier, senior conservator at the Darwin Art Museum, and Cameron Wood, the collection manager of the museum. The three will be in Dili until February the 1st.

The art pieces will be identified, photographed, cleaned, chemically treated, and packed into two waterproof containers.

TNI Lawyers

A team of six Indonesian lawyers representing top TNI officers suspected of being involved in the post-ballot violence in East Timor has postponed its arrival to East Timor for tomorrow (20 January 2000).

The team informed UNTAET yesterday afternoon that the arrival is being postponed for administrative reasons.

The six-member team lead by Adnan Buyung Nasution (lawyer of the Indonesian minister of Political Affairs and Security, General Wiranto) is to arrive together with seven journalists on a chartered flight.

During their four-day visit, the lawyers will meet with the UN Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello, Interfet Commander Major General Cosgrove, representatives of ICRC, Catholic and Protestant Church. The delegation will also make a field trip to Liquica.