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Militia Exchange Investigations Under Way

Militia Exchange Investigations Under Way

New Zealand Defence Force 26 September 2000

Media statement


Investigations have started into an exchange between the New Zealand Battalion and a militia group at Kulit, some 10 kms west of Suai in East Timor, earlier today. One member of the militia group was killed. No New Zealanders were injured in the exchange.

The New Zealand Joint Commander, Brigadier Jerry Mateparae, who is in Suai, said the site had been frozen and would be the subject of a detailed investigation.

"Some 30 New Zealand soldiers were observing an area known for militia activity.

"A small party of three to four militia approached their concealed position in a manner that suggested hostile intent. The militia were in a patrol formation with weapons raised. They were postured to react to anything they came across.

"The militia continued to advance toward the New Zealand position and came within 30 metres when we initiated contact. The militia returned fire and fled. The dead man was killed in the initial exchange.

"Our New Zealand soldiers involved are being debriefed as part of the overall investigation.

Brigadier Mateparae said the rules of engagement for East Timor peace keeping operations permitted the New Zealanders to open fire in a situation where their lives were in danger.

The Joint Commander flew by Royal New Zealand Air Force Iroquois helicopter to Tilomar near Kulit to inspect the site of the exchange.


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