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Prosecutor: No Evidence Linking East Timor's PM to Hit Squad


East Timor's prosecutor-general says there is no evidence linking Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri to a hit squad allegedly hired to silence political opponents.

A rebel leader, Vincente de Concecao, claims Mr. Alkatiri ordered his group to eliminate the prime minister's critics. On Tuesday, prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for the prime minister's ally, former Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato, on charges of supplying weapons to the rebels.

But the chief prosecutor said Wednesday investigators have no evidence implicating Mr. Alkatiri in the case and they have no idea about his alleged involvement.

Australian peacekeeping troops have surrounded Lobato's residence Wednesday, placing him under virtual house arrest.

The scandal has heightened tensions in East Timor. The nation exploded into violence after Mr. Alkatiri fired 600 disgruntled soldiers in March.

Clashes involving military units, former soldiers and rival gangs have terrorized civilians over the past months. The violence has left at least 30 people dead and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the U.N. political mission to East Timor by two months - to August 20 - in light of the recent wave of violence.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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