Friday, February 23, 2007

East Timor Unrest

Tensions have heightened on the streets of Dili after the shooting death of a youth by an Australian soldier.

Radio reports in the capital say that the civilian was firing metal arrows at Australian troops carrying out an operation at a Dili refugee camp. The troops are part of an international stabilisation force.

The incident reflects an upsurge of street violence around Dili, mainly between members of rival martial arts gangs. In recent days there have been numerous house burnings and gang battles which have left seven UN police officers injured and led to 148 arrests in recent days.

With elections looming the security situation in East Timor is growing worse, according to the United Nations News Service.

The U.N. Security Council has just voted to extend the U.N. mission in East Timor for a year and beef up the international police force ahead of East Timor's Presidential election on April 9, with full parliamentary elections to follow.

The council has extended the mission until Feb. 26, 2008 and authorized an additional 140 police to supplement the current force "particularly during the pre- and post election period." The mission currently has about 1,300 international police.

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