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World - Asia/Pacific

Teen killed in East Timor gang attack

East Timor February 18, 1999
Web posted at: 12:37 a.m. EST (0537 GMT)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- An East Timorese teen-ager is dead and another is fighting for his life Thursday after a pro-independence gang armed with machetes reportedly attacked the pair.

The official Antara news agency reported Thursday that the dead youth was hacked and speared to death when he tried to help a friend.

It quoted East Timor deputy military commander Col. Mudjiono as saying Juanico Gomes, 18, was killed by the pro-independence activists when he and some other youths tried to save an abducted friend in Maubara, west of the territory's capital, Dili.

"The victim died because of stabbed wounds after being mobbed by tens of pro-referendum youths," Mudjiono said.

Most East Timorese seeking independence want a referendum on the future of the former Portuguese colony.

Tension between those for and against Indonesian rule has mounted after Jakarta announced last month it would consider independence if its autonomy offer was rejected.

Antara said Gomes had asked 10 friends to save Paulino Da Silva who had been abducted by the pro-independence groups at the Fatubou village in Maubara district.

It said fighting broke out when Gomes and his friends arrived.

The school student died from wounds caused by machetes and spears, Antara said.

Da Silva was also wounded and is in Dili Hospital.

The latest bloodshed occurred just days after another man was shot in the head by unidentified youths.

Red Cross issues warning

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday there was a risk that armed militias in the bloodied territory could get out of control.

ICRC president Cornelio Sommaruga appealed to all sides in the divided province to show moderation as Indonesia discusses its future.

Human rights groups and pro-independence activists have accused Jakarta of giving guns to Timorese loyalists who support Jakarta's rule.

Jakarta has denied arming loyalist groups, but said it has given guns to official units helping the military.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 after Portugal withdrew suddenly. Jakarta annexed the territory the following year, a move never recognized by the United Nations.

Reuters contributed to this report.


RELATED STORIES:
Indonesia's Habibie wants East Timor problem fixed by 2000
February 11, 1999
Jailed East Timorese rebel moved from prison to house arrest
February 10, 1999
U.S. backs more bilateral talks on East Timor
February 10, 1999
Timor rebel gets bungalow, garden in the suburbs
February 10, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Free East Timor
Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor (APCET)
East Timor Action Network
Free East Timor
East Timor Human Rights Centre
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