Two nuns murdered in E.Timor

United Nations troops launched a surprise helicopter raid on an East Timor militia stronghold yesterday, forcing pro-Indonesia fighters to flee into the hills.

The swoop came as a Roman Catholic priest said nine people, including two nuns, were killed by gunmen in the latest attack on Roman Catholic clergy in East Timor.

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Baucau, East Timor's second-largest town, told Portuguese state radio RDP the attack took place Saturday on a rural road as the group returned from Los Palos, 18 miles to the east.

"Unfortunately, we have received confirmation today that they were killed and thrown into a stream," Bishop Basilio do Nascimento said.

The dead also included two seminarians, the local head of the Catholic church relief agency Caritas, two volunteers, the vehicle's driver, and an Indonesian journalist working for a Japanese news organization, the bishop said.

The Italian missionary news service MISNA reported that pro-Indonesian militiamen carried out the attack.

Hundreds - perhaps thousands - of people have been killed, and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes in the violence that has swept through East Timor since it overwhelmingly voted for independence from Indonesia in a UN-sponsored referendum on Aug. 30.

Most of those displaced from East Timor have fled to West Timor, the other side of the island that is still part of Indonesia. It is also where the withdrawing Indonesian Army and militias have gone.

So far, the Australian-led multinational peacekeeping force has secured only the the town of Dili in East Timor.

Australian Associated Press said no shots were fired during yesterday's raid on the militia stronghold, the first outside Dili and in the town of Baucau.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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