Sunday, December 10, 2006
It used to be militia gang members loyal to Jakarta that terrorised the capital Dili. That was seven years ago - 1998. Militia gangs like Aitarak (Thorn)fired homemade pipeguns as they battled on the streets against pro-independence neighbourhood gangs.
Now with independence won, the violence should have ended. But East Timorese youths are battling again. The streets of Dili have been a battleground for the last six months. Unemployment, perceived government corruption, bittere rivalries between police and the army, lack of opportunities for grassroots kids in the new democratic Timor Leste have turned Dili into a cauldron.
So here's the latest installment in the battle to just keep order (from AFP)..
Portuguese police fired rubber bullets to disperse rival football fans who were shooting arrows at each other during a match in the East Timor capital Saturday, witnesses said.
"We were fighting when the police came, closed the main gate then started shooting into the air, a witness from Dili's Bidau district who declined to give his name told AFP.
"Some of them were shooting towards us. My friend's brother got hit by a rubber bullet, I saw dozens injured," he said.
There were no reports of casualties taken to the hospital.
Portuguese paramilitary GNR police arrived at the football ground where fighting broke after rival supporters started throwing stones and shooting arrows at each other.
"We won the game, but the Virgo-kuluhan (rival team) were not happy and started to attack us," another witness said.
"Then the stone fight began and the two sides start shooting arrows and fought with blades," he said.
The police left after the fighting crowd dispersed.
UN police have arrested 26 people this week on suspicion of involvement in deadly clashes between martial arts gangs that have left two people dead and six badly wounded.
International peacekeepers and UN police were deployed to restore order after the tiny nation was rocked by violence which left 37 dead earlier this year.