EAST TIMOR: UN PEACEKEEPING MISSION: GURKHAS

Nepalese Gurkhas have disarmed five guerrillas of Falintil, the pro-independence group that led the resistance in East Timor after Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975. The Falintil fighters, manning a checkpoint near Manatuto on the northeastern coast, seemed surprised when the peacekeepers demanded their automatic weapons. They followed the peacekeepers back to Dili apparently to try to regain their arms. Falintil has volunteered to work with the international force and even conduct joint patrols. But the force, under its U-N-approved mandate, is instructed to seize weapons found outside the designated bases of any group. On Thursday, another Gurkha unit was reported to have opened fire in a combat situation. INTERFET said it was the first time weapons had been fired since the peacekeepers arrived in East Timor, but force commander Major General Peter Cosgrove reported later that two warning shots had been fired on the first day, September 20. Describing the incident, the Gurkha commander said his men split off from the aid convoy it was escorting in the eastern sector toward Los Palos when they heard reports that militiamen were holding two-thousand people hostage in the town of Com. The Gurkhas found 10 or 12 militiamen holding the townspeople at gunpoint. The gunmen scattered, and the Gurkhas fired in the air when they gave chase. Two men were captured, and the unit tried but failed to negotiate the surrender of the others through a local priest. Another militiaman was captured later, but the rest escaped. SOUNDBITE: (English) "Anyone with weapons - either militia or Falintil - we find with weapons will be disarmed, we will take them to headquarters and investigate in more detail." SUPER CAPTION: Gurkha soldier The Gurkhas received a massive welcome when they finally reached Los Palos with the first food aid people had seen there. In the Indonesian army's former barracks, the troops found blood stains in a room - alleged to have been a torture chamber used by Indonesian soldiers in their repression of the pro-independence East Timorese. A former U-N staff member described what happened to his friends imprisoned by the Indonesian army. SOUNDBITE: (English) "This blood is out friend's blood. And because they have killed him, our friend here. And so they beat them and killed them and also, after that they want to say because we don't want to bow to you because you are independence people so now we must kill you. They say it like that for that." Q, This is the military? A, Yes, it is safe from the Indonesian military here." SUPER CAPTION: Arlindo dos Santos Soares, former UNAMET employee Down this well are believed to be the victims of the militia's days of terror. Four thousand people have returned to Los Palos but another four-thousand remain missing - they're believed to still be hiding in hills. You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/85e78579b65a8d697ef88091461549fb Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork

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