/** reg.easttimor: 3060.0 **/

** Topic: Guardian: Dili's destruction now complete; militias' terror spreads **
** Written 11:02 PM Sep 8, 1999 by Joyo@aol.com in cdp:reg.easttimor **
Subject: Guardian: Dili's destruction now complete; militias' terror spreads

The Guardian [UK] Thursday September 9, 1999

City's destruction now complete

Exodus: Tide of refugees flees devastated Dili as militias' terror spreads

John Aglionby in Kupang, West Timor and Christopher Zinn in Sydney

East Timor's pro-Indonesia militias completed the destruction of the capital, Dili, yesterday and intensified their campaign of terror in many other areas across the territory.

Refugees who fled across the border to West Timor estimated that about 90% of the capital had been razed. "As I drove out of the city last night, I struggled to find any houses still intact," said civil servant Ricardo Ribero, who braved the overland trip through militia strongholds in the territory's western districts with 18 friends and relatives. "At least 90% have been destroyed and the militia are working on the rest."

UN sources said yesterday that they had seen the Indonesian army working hand in hand with the militias - whose members reportedly number 54,000 - to blow up the remaining buildings.

"I have no idea how many people have died," said Mr Ribero, "but it is clear that there are very many victims. All activities have stopped because everything like electricity, television and radio have stopped."

Ironically, one of the few buildings still standing last night was the Hotel Mahkota. Ransacked on Monday after the majority of guests - foreign journalists - chartered planes to safety, it has escaped being burnt down. Almost every other building, including the governor's office dating back to East Timor's colonial era under Portugal, had been burned, blown up or severely damaged.

The UN yesterday said some 5,000 East Timorese had been herded into Dili's port by militiamen for forced deportation to West Timor as part of a "cleansing" of independence supporters.

"This is a cleansing operation that's going on here - they're deporting thousands and thousands into West Timor, we don't know how many but it's an operation that has to be stopped," said David Wimhurst, spokesman for the UN mission in East Timor.

Several hours before the UN decided yesterday to withdraw, the Australian government ordered the evacuation of its consulate in Dili, an extremely heavily guarded building in which the staff had become prisoners in the last few days.

"We just couldn't function", a member of staff said. "Gunfire was going off all around us, we couldn't leave without being attacked and so there was no point in staying."

Elsewhere in the territory, Basilio Dos Nascimento, the Roman Catholic bishop of East Timor's second largest city, Baucau, suffered an injured hand when the militia attacked the house where he was staying. He then fled to the nearby hills and took refuge in a remote convent. The Roman Catholic bishop was quoted as saying that if the international community did not intervene quickly "we will all die".

The militias have no boundaries; their terror spreads even into churches and convents.

At least four brothers from the Don Bosco order were reported missing and several other orders said they had received serious threats.

Seven nuns and three priests were among those evacuated by air. "Everything is finished. Everything is being burned," said one priest who declined to give his name.

The UN said it was investigating reports that 100 people had been massacred by militias in a church in Suai, about 60 miles south of Dili. Pamela Sexton, an American referendum monitor who has now been evacuated to Australia, described how she tried to save the victim of a militia machete attack left for dead in the streets of Suai. "[He was] sliced numerous times on either arm and stomach and I think the intestines were out. He was covered in blood and amazingly was walking."

An evacuated Catholic aid worker claimed militiamen were taking mind-altering drugs to allow them to carry out atrocities. Paul Toon, who fled East Timor on Monday, said: "When they recover from the effects of the drug, they are horrified by what they have done."

Mr Toon, who worked for the aid organisation Caritas Australia, said rumours of drug use had been strong since a massacre in Liquica, west of Dili, in April this year. "I was being told by ordinary East Timorese people of men and women being decapitated and their heads placed on sticks beside the road," he said.

Villagers have told of men being marched to the waterfront in Dili and gunned down out of view of observers trapped inside safe houses.

The regular drone of military transport aircraft over Kupang in West Timor and the stream of trucks overflowing with people and their belongings travelling from the city's docks to the refugee camps were constant reminders yesterday that thousands of East Timorese are still desperate to escape the rampaging militia. By yesterday evening almost 75,000 refugees had been registered with the governor's office in Kupang.