DEPLOYS 150 COMMANDOS, 1300 TROOPS, WARSHIPS, HELICOPTERS
9 OFFICERS KILLED IN DILI POLICE STATION MASSACRE
From the Your New Reality blog :
So seriously does the Australian government view the chaos and carnage now spreading in East Timor, that they have deployed a military force to the neighbouring nation larger than either of the 'War On Terror' deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
On the streets of the capital Dili, and in the east and west of Timor, police are shooting at other police, and soldiers have turned against fellow soldiers.
More than 600 soldiers were sacked from the Army in late April, after a dispute over wages, recognition and what they called a general lack of respect. Ethnic tensions between Eas Timor and Indonesia-controlled West Timor are fraying the edges of the dispute and racheting up the fighting.
The ousted soldiers, and their supporters, staged protests in the streets of Dili in late April and early May, and began negotiations with the East Timorese president, but gun fights broke out amongst the sacked soldiers, local police, militias and their former comrades in the East Timorese Army.
Most of the 600-plus sacked soldiers took to the hills outside of Dili and have since been joined by other soldiers and police who have officially defected.
The situation on the ground is so dangerous, prime Minister John Howard fears there will be casualties among the Australian soldiers and commandos now deployed.
The leader of the breakaway military group, Major Alfredo Reinado, says he will not allow his troops to shoot or engage in conflict with Australian soldiers. He wants to work with the Australians to return order to Dili, and the rest of East Timor.
"Don't worry, I'm with you. I'm with Australia," he told the ABC News.
"I'm with peacekeeping forces. I'm ready to cooperate with them based on any agreement that will be reached by our President (Xanana Gusmao)."
So what's his problem? While he backs Gusmao, the major has rejected the authority of the rest of the government of East Timor, who he claims are an entity for communist forces who want to destroy the democracy and independence of five year old nation.
Major Reinado recieved top level military training in Australia last year, as did a number of the soldiers who have joined his breakaway faction.
As Australian troops go in to round them up, it is likely that the 'rebel' troops will come face to face with some of the Australian soldiers who trained them.