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Australians start leaving Dili as violence co -

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Australians start leaving Dili as violence continues

Broadcast: 06/03/2007

Reporter: Mark Willacy

The Government has urged Australian citizens to leave East Timor amid violent protests on the
streets of Dili.

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Australian citizens have begun leaving East Timor amid escalating protests
in the capital Dili. Anti-Australian feel has been fueled by the weekend raid on Alfredo Reinado
during which five soldiers were killed. Tomorrow brings another potential flash point. A court is
due to hand down its verdict in the trial of the former interior minister Rogerio Lobato who's been
accused of arming a civilian militia during last year's violence. Mark Willacy reports from Dili.

MARK WILLACY: Even as the East Timorese President was announcing a crackdown on unrest,
international security forces were increasing patrols in areas where trouble might break out. The
peacekeepers were confronted by small groups of protesters, some of them chanting anti-Australian
slogans. Some arrests were made but there was no serious incidents. The Government remains on alert
fearing the long-standing tensions in East Timor could again explode into violence.

XANANA GUSMAO, EAST TIMORESE PRESIDENT: The State will use the legal mechanisms that are already in
place, including the use of force if necessary to stop the violence.

MARK WILLACY: The Australian Government has authorised the departure of non-essential embassy staff
as well as family members. And is advising all Australians to consider leaving.

JOHN HOWARD: Those evacuations are precautionary, I don't hold deep fears but I do hold some
concerns. The security situation has got worse.

MARK WILLACY: Some Australians, mostly volunteers for aid agencies and other non-government
organisations, have already flown out of Dili for Darwin.

WOMAN: Oh, I feel desperately sad for the Timorese. They put so much into it and it's so hard to
plan your lives when this sort of thing happens all the time.

MARK WILLACY: The latest trouble in East Timor has been sparked by the exploits of the renegade
former army officer Alfredo Reinado who evaded capture by Australian troop there's days ago.

AIR CHIEF MARSHAL ANGUS HOUSTON, AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE FORCE CHIEF: It was a very high risk operation,
it was a very challenging operation and it was conducted very professionally and very effectively
and I think he got away by the skin of his teeth.

BRIG. MAL KERDON, AUSTRALIAN TROOP COMMANDER: And Reinado now is forced to live out in small groups
an try and survive out on the land. So he has no authority, no initiative. The Government of
Timor's authority has been restated and the people of Same can now go back to living a normal life.
So I think it was very successful operation.

MARK WILLACY: There could be even more trouble to come with the Dili court to hand down its verdict
tomorrow in the trial of Rogerio Lobato, the former interior minister accused of arming a civilian
militia during last year's explosion of violence in East Timor.