Australia has ended its peacekeeping duties in East Timor, nearly six years after Australian troops led an international mission to restore order in the former Indonesian province.

Australian land commander Major-General Ken Gillespie marked the end of the mission Monday when he handed control of the military base at Moleana to East Timor's Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

Australia sent 5,000 troops to East Timor in 1999 to head a U.N.-backed intervention force aimed at ending violence by pro-Indonesian militias after the East Timorese voted for independence from Jakarta.

East Timor gained formal independence in 2002. Only about 100 Australian soldiers remained in the country under an extended U.N. support mission by the time of today's handover.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.