October 6, 1999
Two pro-Indonesia militia members are killed in a failed attack on U.N.-sanctioned peacekeeping troops in East Timor.
-- Posted 1:00 PM ET
their first armed clash with pro-Indonesia militias, U.N.-sanctioned
peacekeepers in East Timor killed two militia members during a failed
ambush near the town of Suai.
"It was well and truly a sneak attack," Cosgrove said. "The
militia have chosen again to operate with violence, notwithstanding
our desire to do this with negotiations."
Suai is a main crossing-point into Indonesian-ruled West Timor. The
peacekeepers had been on their way back to the town after escorting
a separate band of armed militiamen across the border.
Though peacekeepers have pushed the militias out of several areas in
East Timor since their arrival September 20, this incident was the first
to result in fatalities.
in the day, Roman Catholic Bishop Carlos Belo, one of the region's leading
spiritual leaders, returned to the homeland he'd been forced to flee
during a wave of militia violence.
"It is worse than hell," Belo said during a tour of Dili,
the East Timorese capital that has been devastated by militia attacks.
"We haven't seen hell yet, but this is really it."
Belo, who shared the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow independence
leader Jose Ramos-Horta, is the first major East Timorese figure to
return since the militia attacks began.
"My priority now is to be with the people -- to pray with them,
to say Mass with them and to be with them," Belo said.
According to the Associated Press, resistance leader Xanana Gusmao,
jailed by the Indonesian government since 1992 and widely expected to
be an independent East Timor's first president, is due back next week.
East Timor's people are also slowly making their way home. While peacekeepers are helping to return some of the estimated 250,000 East Timorese who fled to West Timor during the violence to the area, many others are still hiding in the mountains of East Timor despite the growing presence of peacekeeping troops.