The United Nations is stepping up its police presence in Timor-Leste after two killings in the past 24 hours in Dili, the capital of the small and impoverished South-East Asian nation.
UN Police (UNPOL) has opened a murder investigation into last night’s death of a foreign national, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Security Sector Support and Rule of Law Eric Tan Huck Gim confirmed at a press conference today in Dili. The man was pronounced dead soon after being taken to a clinic in the Bairo Pite district of the capital.
Mr. Tan said UNPOL is also looking into the death of a second person whose body was found in the Comoro area, near Dili’s airport.
“We are investigating and trying to collect the facts, but I can say now that there does not seem to be any indication that there is a relation between the two,” he said.
The UN envoy said UNPOL has stepped up its presence at different sites across Dili, which remains beset by tensions following the nationwide outbreak of violence in April and May that led to the deaths of at least 37 people and forced about 155,000 people – or 15 per cent of Timor-Leste’s population – to flee their homes.
Emir Bilget, the Acting Police Commissioner from UNPOL, told journalists that more street patrols will begin across Dili tomorrow and the number of police involved in patrols will go up by at least 50 per cent, while some key police posts will also be reinforced.
Mr. Bilget said there are currently 966 UNPOL officers working in Timor-Leste, with the total expected to rise eventually to more than 1,600, while the process of training officers with the national police force is also continuing.
Mr. Tan also stressed that the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste, known as UNMIT, remains committed to ensuring that national elections expected to be held in April or May will proceed and be conducted in a free and fair manner.