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The Jakarta Post

The Jakarta Post, 1/11/2006 7:14:30 PM

East Timor defends shooting deaths of three Indonesians

DILI (AFP): East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said Wednesday that his country's police force had acted in self defense when they shot dead three former pro-Jakarta militiamen near the border.

He also criticized Indonesia for failing to prevent militiamen from infiltrating East Timor.

The incident Friday sparked a diplomatic row between Indonesia and its former province of East Timor, with Jakarta accusing East Timorese police of excessive use of force.

"Our policemen were ambushed by these three individuals that entered our country without documents, visas or passports," Alkatiri told a press conference.

One of two teenagers who managed to escaped the shooting said they and their three colleagues had intended to fish in a river near the border but had unwittingly crossed into East Timorese territory.

The three former members of the Red and White Iron militia took Indonesian citizenship after East Timor voted for independence from Jakarta in 1999.

Around 1,500 mostly East Timorese who moved to Indonesia's West Timor or East Nusa Tenggara after the 1999 referendum took to the streets of Atambua near the border on Monday to condemn the shootings.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda described the incident as "an excessive use of violence" and urged East Timor to prosecute the policemen who carried out the shooting. (**)

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