Dili Unrest #5

It was a pretty quiet night here, but an acquaintance who was meant to be flying out this morning found that all flights are cancelled and the airport is closed. But more importantly, machine gun fire was heard in the vicinity.

We did a drive around central Dili this morning and the streets are very quiet, all the barricades have been removed and there are no restrictions to movement. No shops were open, but the Cafe Brasilia did have its doors open.

Cafe Brasilia is about 200 metres from the Palacio do Governu where three burnt-out vehicles sit outside the front of the Palacio plus another 6 vehicles with all windows smashed. The windows on the eastern and western ends of the Palacio were broken, but there appeared no damage to ones on the front of the building. The eastern and western ends are in close proximity to side streets, while the front is more easily defended. The broken windows were clearly made of shatter-proof glass as they are all heavily cracked but have remained intact. Other buildings out the back have had windows broken.

As for other parts of town, the Taibesse market area was very quiet and 99% of all shops were closed wherever we looked. There were about 30 vehicles parked outside the front of the US Embassy, full of families and a selection of personal possessions. Most of them appear to be the extended families of Timorese who work at the embassy.

Other reports suggest that there was frequent gunfire in the Comorro area overnight but the real hotspot appears to be the Tasi Tolu (three lakes) area a few kms further west of Comorro.

It is expected that the casualty count will increase when information trickles back from the Tasi Tolu area. Word from locals suggests that they expect an intensification of trouble today but who knows.