Timor rebel vows fight to the end

Rebel commander tells Al Jazeera he will defend himself as troops close in.

    Reinado told Al Jazeera East Timor's political leaders were to blame for the showdown[Reuters]

    "Even though they take my soul out, I will never surrender to this"

    Alfredo Reinado

    The tense stand-off involving troops backed up with armoured vehicles and helicopters is under way near the village of Same in East Timor's central highlands.
    It began earlier this week after Reinado and his followers were accused of stealing a cache of automatic weapons from a border police post.
    Although no shots have yet been fired, the Australian commander of East Timor's international security force has said he is prepared to use "appropriate force" and urged Reinado to surrender.
    Reinado said hundreds of villagers had deserted the area, fleeing to the mountains for refuge as tensions continue to escalate.
    Speaking to Al Jazeera, he hit out at East Timor's political leaders for causing the showdown.

    Australia has about 800 troops 
    deployed in East Timor [EPA]

    "They don't think about the nation and they don't think about the people themselves," he said.
    "In fact, they only think about their political party, so they sacrifice the nation and people for their own interest."
    He said that as a member of East Timor's military he had sworn to defend the people and the country, not the government.
    "If any political leader wants to harm the stability of this nation, I have a right to stand up and defend the people."
    Reinado was jailed for leading a mutiny with nearly 600 soldiers and deserting East Timor's armed forces last May.
    The mutiny triggered clashes between rival factions of the security forces and led to the worst violence seen in East Timor since its bloody break from Indonesia in 1999.


    He escaped from prison in September along with 50 other inmates.


    "Anything that happens from now on is his responsibility"

    Brigadier General Mal Rerden,
    commander East Timor security forces

    On Monday Xanana Gusmao, East Timor's president, ordered international security forces to arrest Reinado saying the raid on the police post had been a step too far.
    The move comes amid deteriorating security in the lead up to the country's presidential elections on April 9.
    Military officials have said any operation to capture Reinado would involve "appropriate use of force" and urged him to surrender.
    Brigadier General Mal Rerden, the Australian in charge of the East Timor's international security force, told reporters in Dili on Thursday that Reinado would bear responsibility for what could ensue.
    "He has one option. He can help the people of Timor-Leste by surrendering himself and removing the threat of the weapons," he said, referring to the country by its formal name.
    "If he cares about the people of Timor-Leste, if he cares about the people with him now, he would give up his weapons and surrender. Anything that happens from now on is his responsibility."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and Agencies


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