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UN: More Troops May be Needed to Quell East Timor Violence


The United Nations Special Representative to East Timor said more international peacekeepers may be needed to stop the violence engulfing Dili, the capital of East Timor.

The last of the 1300 Australian international forces arrived in Dili Sunday as violence from ethnic gangs continued to rage in the city.

Malaysia has nearly 300 troops on the ground, and New Zealand and Portugal pledged to send peacekeepers after an urgent plea Wednesday by the government for international help to stop the bloodshed in this impoverished nation.

The United Nations chief in Dili, Sukehiro Hasegawa, says the international community may need to send in more troops to save the fledgling country.

"I think it is a challenge but it is an opportunity for the international community to show that we can be helped the people of this country to preserve their democratic foundation," Hasegawa says.

The U.N. has evacuated around 70 percent of its staff to Darwin as thousands of terrified Timorese continue to flee their homes for the relative safety of churches, embassies, the U.N. compound, and the international airport.

More than half the capital's residents are thought to be sheltering in makeshift refugees camps to protect themselves from rival gangs who continued to rampage Sunday, torching cars and houses and firing weapons.

The violence started last month after nearly half the country's military was sacked after complaining of discrimination and poor working conditions.

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