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Aussies brave gunfire
Sunday Herald Sun ^ | 28th May 2006 | Ian McPhedran and Bob Taylor

Posted on 05/27/2006 4:47:25 PM PDT by naturalman1975

AUSTRALIAN troops came under fire in East Timor yesterday as they faced down armed thugs and rescued women, children and wounded civilians.

Late yesterday they stopped machete-wielding mobs charging a hotel in the capital, Dili, where Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri was about to hold a news conference.

The troops, who had to call in reinforcements, disarmed gangs carrying machetes, knives, spiked poles, slingshots and arrows.

No one was hurt. The Australians took control without firing a shot.

Earlier, troops appeared overwhelmed before reinforcements, backed by armoured personnel carriers, moved quickly into Dili's smoke-filled streets.

The street fighting was the worst since 1999 when pro-Indonesian militia began a rampage of murder and destruction in response to East Timor's vote for independence.

In the past four days, at least 23 people – including 12 police officers – have been killed.

An Australian Army major reported gangs using mobile phones to spread terror while looting.

He said the fighting was the "last big showing" by rival gangs before troops secured the city.

"They know we are coming and this is their response," he said.

"We know who they are. They can move faster than us, because we are weighed down by our equipment. But the big push is coming."

In one incident yesterday, 10 heavily armed Australian commandos moved into a central Dili neighbourhood when shooting broke out 500 metres away.

They shepherded hundreds of panicked, teary locals through alleys to safety as fighting erupted between rival ethnic clans, the "eastern" Lorosae and "western" Loromonu.

In other parts of Dili, Diggers tried to separate rival armed gangs as dozens of houses burned and shots were fired into the air.

Mobs of angry young men roamed the streets armed with killing sticks, machetes, knives, pipes, sling shots, lumps of wood – whatever they could get their hands on.

In other developments:

VICE-CHIEF of the defence force Lt-Gen Ken Gillespie said the full force of 1300 troops would be in place this morning.

TROOP ship HMAS Kanimbla arrived off Dili and began ferrying ashore troops and armoured vehicles.

GROUND FORCE commander Brigadier Mick Slater was due to meet rebel leader Major Alfredo Reinado.

THE UN was evacuating non-essential staff and dependants from the Dili chaos.

THOUSANDS of local residents took refuge at the city's international airport – where the Australians have set up a base – and outside the Australian Embassy and other foreign diplomatic missions.

PRIME MINISTER John Howard refused to say when Australian troops would return home.

FOREIGN MINISTER Alexander Downer said that ultimately Timor must sort out its own politics.

AUSTRALIAN Blackhawk helicopters began sweeps over rebel strongholds in the hills outside Dili.

RELIEF agencies warned of a dire food shortage as tens of thousands of displaced people began to take refuge in ad hoc camps.

Entire neighbourhoods descended into gang warfare yesterday. Heavily armed East Timorese troops and police let off volleys of gunfire to remind people that sticks were no match for assault rifles.

As Australian troops were ordered into the town to guard government buildings, locals wanted to know what was keeping the Diggers from moving into the streets.

TOPICS: Australia/New Zealand
KEYWORDS: 1999; alfredoreinado; alkatiri; astute; aussietroops; easttimor; katiri; loromonu; lorosae; marialkatiri; operationastute; reinado

1 posted on 05/27/2006 4:47:26 PM PDT by naturalman1975
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To: naturalman1975
Here's to raising a tall one for our Aussie brothers - Kicking as$ on some other evildoers that need it -
2 posted on 05/27/2006 4:57:45 PM PDT by SevenMinusOne
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To: naturalman1975
An Australian Army major reported gangs using mobile phones to spread terror while looting.

I guess there is no "do not call" list in east timor.

3 posted on 05/27/2006 6:13:52 PM PDT by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: naturalman1975

My Dad fought alongside the Aussies in WWII and he told me that they were good natured and funny but tough as nails when it came to fighting.

4 posted on 05/27/2006 6:22:07 PM PDT by Inyo-Mono (Life is like a cow pasture, it's hard to get through without stepping in some mess. NRA.)
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