Men killed outside Dili Church as Timor's PM leaves to see Pope

In the latest violence to hit East Timor, two men were stabbed to death outside a Catholic Church in Dili on Monday as Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta departs for Rome to meet with Pope Benedict.

The two men were killed during evening prayers at the Church, a hospital official said on Monday, in the latest violence to disrupt the tiny nation since foreign peacekeepers arrived in May, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Four other people, including a Chinese citizen, were injured in the fighting on Sunday night between rival gangs in the capital said Antonio Caleres, director of the Dili National Hospital.

Stone throwing between two groups of youths spread to the Aimutin Catholic Church where windows were smashed before two unidentified men were stabbed, witnesses said. Both were killed within blocks of the church.

The Chinese citizen was stabbed in the stomach, Caleres said. No other details were immediately available.

Antonio Transfiguracao, head of the Salesian priests in East Timor, said the violence was particularly disturbing because it occurred "near the holy place when Mass was going on .... we have lost our dignity as human beings."

Meanwhile, Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, whose resistance to Indonesia's bloody occupation of East Timor earned him a shared Nobel Peace Prize with Prime Minister Ramos-Horta in 1996, said he would meet renegade soldiers to help find a solution to ongoing political instability.

Bishop Belo, now a missionary in Mozambique, is on a 10-day visit to his troubled country.

"It's time to end the violence and crisis," he told refugees.

"It is very easy for us to kill our East Timorese brothers and sisters ... our culture is culture of war and not a culture of peace."

Bishop Belo said he will hold talks with fugitive renegade military police commander Alfredo Reinado - who escaped from prison in August with dozens of inmates - and others representing the dismissed soldiers.

Speaking before boarding a flight to Rome, Prime Minister Ramos-Horta said he would ask Pope Benedict XVI to visit East Timor, since the Pontiff's presence could help ease tensions.

"I look forward to discussing many issues with him ... including ways to help the poor people in this country," Ramos-Horta told reporters.


Men killed outside Timor church during evening prayers (Sydney Morning Herald, 24/10/06)

East Timor's prime minister departs for Vatican for meeting with the Pope (International Herald Tribune, 23/10/06)

Timor bishop in bid to prevent new violence (CathNews, 13/10/06)
a href="http://cathnews.acu.edu.au/609/53.php">Timor highlanders back fugitive rebel with prayers (CathNews, 11/9/06)
'Big people' must reconcile, say displaced Timorese (CathNews 15/8/06)
Priest says coffee growers big losers in Timor unrest (CathNews 21/7/06)
Ramos-Horta wants Vatican embassy for Timor (CathNews 11/7/06)
Timor Church accused of plotting coup (CathNews 29/6/06)
Timor Church to pursue truth and dialogue (CathNews 28/6/06)
Diocese prepares to aid fleeing East Timor refugees (CathNews 11/5/06)
East Timor Catholic leaders appeal for calm after riot (CathNews 5/5/06)
Thousands shelter in Catholic centres after East Timor riots (CathNews 3/5/06)
West Timor bishop tells Govt it's time to act on refugees (CathNews 13/3/03)

24 Oct 2006