More Trouble

Over the weekend, there were the odd reports of minor trouble (in the Becora and Comorro areas) but none indicating (to me anyway) that things were on the edge.

It seems to have changed yesterday. The foreign press have already reported on yesterday’s issues fairly promptly. I have already heard reports from different sources which certainly confirm these press reports.

On Monday night, Major Alfredo Reinado (the “rebel” military police commander) was on TV and he seemed to be giving a form of ultimatum to the government – something along the lines of “do something to resolve the grievances of the sacked military by the end of the week or action will follow”.

I believe the Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta took steps to speak to the sacked soldiers in Ermera but it appears things must have gone wrong somewhere.

Last night’s TV news reported 2 dead and 8 wounded from fighting yesterday between Major Reinado’s group and the Timorese army (FDTL). Automatic gunfire and grenades are known to have been used and I understand that the roads to the west and east of Dili were blocked for some hours.

It could not have been comfortable for anyone out there yesterday as it had been bucketing rain on and off all day. (And revealing the numerous holes in our ceiling at home.)

Yesterday, I cycled through town during the day yesterday without a problem, but last night, the streets were pretty well deserted again.

Just to summarise some key points :

  • Yesterday’s incident with Major Alfredo Reinado’s group was on the outskirts of Becora, which is a suburb on the eastern side of Dili and the gateway to the main road to the east (ie Baucau).
  • His group is said to be no more than 40 but probably above average in military skills.
  • This location is more than 20kms from the Ermera/Gleno area to the south-west where Mr. Salsinha and his group are based (ie the “rebel” ex-soldiers).
  • It is not known (to me) if the Salsinha and Reinado groups are coordinating with each other, but it would appear that they are physically isolated from each other.
  • I do not know if the Reinado group initiated yesterday’s action or were tracked down by the military (FDTL) and effectively cornered.
  • Supposedly, some key talks had been arranged for Thursday. I don’t know if yesterday’s events change that.
  • The current fighting is on the slopes of the foothills to the east of Dili. There is no fighting in Dili proper, although some parts of Becora and Taibesse (next to Becora) are not recommended to be around.
  • 2 thoughts on “More Trouble

    1. I have appreciated all of the updates amongst the sparse and inaccurate info from foreign news bureaus. But I wonder is Becora 20 or 200km from Ermera?

    2. Becora is an eastern suburb that is on Dili’s outskirts and blends in to the foothills, slightly to the south of due east perhaps 5+ kms. There are quite a few trees and probably easier access for someone coming down from the foothills. It is generally said to be a poor area.

      Ermera is 28 kms as the crow flies to the south-west and is the centre of the coffee growing industry. It is heavily treed and hilly. The roads are windy through hills and would take a lot longer to get there than 28 kms implies.

      You shouldn’t knock the foreign media. Yes, they do get facts a little wrong at times and freely use the terms “rebels”, “renegades”, “raging battles”, “civil war” etc. with abandon. I always try to read them and think “now, what would someone in Australia think when they don’t know an awful lot about TL”. But none of them live here and it will take a while for them to get it right, know where things are and get the terms right. So I try to be more accurate about the feel.

      Blame the headlines on some sub-editor back in OZ or wherever. CNN had a shocker today, referring to the Timor Leste westerners (loromonu) as being part of Indonesian West Timor (Nusa Tengarra). That one is a major clanger.

      “Raging battles” and me cycling down to the roastery to pick up my freshly roasted coffee don’t appear to gel. But the rebels do not (as far as I know) have the weaponry to make long-distance hits on Dili. They don’t have artillery, planes, copters and in fact, neither to the loyal military. But they will have animal cunning and an extremely good grounding in living off the land and disappearing into the shadows.

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