Sydney Morning Herald, March 30th 2007
At least 20 injured in E Timor clashes
At least 20 people were injured, two of them police officers, as gangs from rival political parties scuffled and threw rocks in East Timor, authorities said on Friday.
The violence broke on Thursday night in Viqueque district, about 220 kilometres from Dili, and is believed to be the first directly related to next month's East Timorese presidential elections.
At least 20 people were injured, two of them police officers, said Geraldo da Silva, of the emergency unit in Viqueque hospital.
The unrest broke out following a campaign rally by presidential candidate Jose Ramos Horta, said local police chief Gaspa da Costa.
His supporters brawled with youths aligned with Fretilin, the left-leaning political party of ousted Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, he said, though it was not clear what triggered the dispute.
East Timor, which became Asia's newest nation in 2002, descended into chaos one year ago after Alkatiri dismissed 600 soldiers, a move that split the armed forces into factions and later spilled over into gang warfare.
At least 37 people were killed and 150,000 others fled their homes.
The deployment of thousands of international troops helped curb the worst of the violence, and while there have been isolated incidents since then, Thursday's was the first since campaigning for April 9 presidential elections started last week.
The UN police force in the country said in a statement that Ramos Horta supporters were attacked, but did not say by whom. Fretilin spokesman Filomeno Aleixo said the party did not instigate the violence, and denied involvement.
"Whoever was involved in this incident should be brought to justice," he told The Associated Press.
East Timor voted to break free from 24 years of Indonesian rule in 1999.
The country was administered by the United Nations, and until last year's crisis, which led to the overthrow of the government, had been considered a major success in nation-building.