New unrest flares in Timor-Leste, UN police reports

New unrest flares in Timor-Leste, UN police reports

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Fighting involving 100 to 300 people armed with machetes, steel darts and bows broke out in Timor-Leste today, almost completely destroying a market in the town of Metinaro in the latest violence following inconclusive elections two months ago, the United Nations Police (UNPOL) reported today.

Fighting involving 100 to 300 people armed with machetes, steel darts and bows broke out in Timor-Leste today, almost completely destroying a market in the town of Metinaro in the latest violence following inconclusive elections two months ago, the United Nations Police (UNPOL) reported today.

Latest reports indicate that trouble flared up again in the afternoon and 10 houses and a motorcycle were set on fire. The police and the fire brigade are in attendance. Three people were arrested. The International Stabilization Force (ISF) and other police units rushed to the scene, east of Dili, the capital.

Two people were also reported to have been killed in a confrontation in Ermera, another eastern region of the small South-East Asian country that the UN helped shepherd to independence from Indonesia in 2002, but no further details were available, UNPOL said.

In Dili, UNPOL attended to eight incidents, firing tear gas to control the crowds and arresting six people. Large groups engaged in sporadic fighting in the vicinity of Surik Mas and Bairo Pite.

Separately, a fire was also reported near the Comoro roundabout, which was extinguished with only minor damage. A small fight near Bebonuk primary school was also brought under control by police.

Timor-Leste has been shaken by unrest after the formation of a new government following the June elections, which failed to produce a single outright winner.

The UN enhanced its peacekeeping and policing roles in the country last year after violence attributed to differences between eastern and western regions killed at least 37 people and forced 155,000 others, 15 per cent of the population, to flee their homes.