Timor-Leste: The UN strengthens electoral security after two fatal shootings yesterday

News and Press Release
Originally published
03 June, 2007, Dili - The acting head of the UN Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) Eric Tan, said today that security in Viqueque is being revised following the death of two people in the district yesterday.

The first incident occurred one hour after the completion of a National Congress for Reconstruction of Timor-Leste (CNRT) campaign rally in Viqueque town. A man from the nearby town of Ossu was fatally shot in a marketplace at 15.45, following an altercation between CNRT supporters and opponents. UNPol responded quickly and brought the situation under control with the use of tear gas and warning shots to disperse the crowd.

The man was believed to have been shot by an off-duty PNTL officer and a search is underway to apprehend the suspected person.

The second incident occurred when a group of CNRT supporters, accompanied by Mr Gusmao, returned the body of the deceased man to Ossu. Initial reports indicate that PNTL fired shots to control a crowd at a roadblock near Ossu. A 24 year old man was fatally shot and a second 16 year old youth was injured.

The CNRT political party is headed by the former President of Timor-Leste, Xanana Gusmao.

"We are treating both shootings seriously," said Eric Tan, the acting head of UNMIT.

"Initial investigations show that the first shooting happened an hour after the rally had concluded. Security was provided for the rally itself. The motivation of the killing is at this stage unknown.

Neither incident suggests an attempt on Mr Gusmao's life," Mr Tan said.

UNMIT's senior leadership attended a meeting convened by President José Ramos-Horta, with Prime Minister Estanislau da Silva, Minister of the Interior Alcino Barris, the International Stabilisation Forces and the F-FDTL in Dili this morning.

"The ISF has also deployed a platoon to the region. The United Nations will reinforce its security plan ahead of the June 30 election.

Timor-Leste's most senior leadership also insisted in today's meeting that retaliation for yesterday's event will not be tolerated and have again urged political supporters to remain calm and abide by democratic principles to ensure a free and fair election process," said Mr Tan.

For more information, please call UNMIT Spokesperson Allison Cooper on +670 7230453.