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Villagers clash over border construction project

Building of new customs office halts after altercation between residents from Indonesia, Timor Leste

Albertus V. Rehi, Kupang

August 2, 2012

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Construction on a new customs office on the border with Timor Leste came to a halt earlier this week after a brawl broke out among residents from villages on either side of the border. The violence erupted between Indonesian villagers from North Central Timor district and East Timorese from Pasabe-Oecusse district over the location of the new building, with residents hurling stones at each other and reports that some people were carrying knives and wooden clubs. “The construction project, which was initiated by the government of Timor Leste, was located in the neutral zone,” Raymundus Sau Fernandez, head of TTU district, told yesterday. “According to an agreement made two years ago, there must be no activities in the netural zone.” Fernandez added that peace had been restored and that military officials had met with villagers and urged them not to take the law into their own hands. Edward Gana, head of the East Nusa Tenggara provincial Border Area Management Board, confirmed that both governments had previously agreed to make the border area a neutral zone. “However, there should be a further discussion,” he said.
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