Report – By Karlis Salna
Police in East Timor are on high alert after two offices connected to the administration of upcoming elections were hit with firebombs.
The attack in the capital Dili this week comes just weeks out from presidential elections which will be held on March 17.
A number of bombs were thrown at the National Commission for Elections building and office of the Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration. A United Nations vehicle was also damaged in the attack.
East Timor National Police Commander-General Longuinhos Monteiro told Australian Associated Press/Joyo security had been ramped up in the capital as a precaution against any actions designed to impede the activities of the general election.
“An order has been issued by the command that if there are any other similar attempts from today onwards, the police are to use firearms and any other means, to carry out the very big responsibility it has before the constitution of strengthening the democratic process during the elections,” Commander-General Monteiro said.
East Timor was racked by political violence at the last elections in 2006, leading to the deployment of international forces including about 400 Australian troops.
Along with a contingent of just under 1000 United Nations security personnel, they are scheduled to withdraw following parliamentary elections which will be held in June.
While there are fears about the possibility of violence around both elections, both East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao maintain that the troops should leave at the end of 2012.
Commander-General Monteiro said a number of people had been arrested following Monday’s attacks but they were later released due to a lack of evidence.
Police have now been stationed at the two offices that were hit by the firebombs.
The presidential election on March 17 is shaping as a re-run of the last poll five years ago which saw Dr Ramos-Horta defeat Fretilin’s Francisco Guterres in a second round run-off.
East Timor also faced the possibility of sliding into civil war following an assassination attempt on Dr Ramos-Horta in 2008.
Meanwhile, The Jakarta Post’s Nethy Dharma Somba reports from Jayapura in West Papua that a soldier was stabbed to death on Wednesday as hundreds of residents clashed in Wamena city.
Army Sergeant-Major Bambang died from a stab wound to his head and an arrow injury. Colonel Ibnu Tri Widodo, commanding officer of the Praja Wirayakti Regional Military Command, told reporters that Bambang was attacked after he came to the scene of the riot at Sinagma market to find out what was happening.
“The scene was close to his dormitory.”
Jayawijaya Deputy Regent John R. Banua and another soldier, Chief Sergeant Andi, were also injured during the clash, which Ibnu said was triggered by a clash between a motorcycle taxi driver and his passenger.