The UN has confirmed a massacre of up to 100 people sheltering in a church in the southern East Timorese parish of Suai.
    Three of the victims were priests, including a 34 year old Jesuit from the Indonesian province, Tarcisius Dewantó SJ, ordained earlier this year.
    In a separate incident, the East Timorese head of Caritas, Fr Francisco Barreto, is also believed to have been killed.
    Bishop Hilton Deakin of Melbourne said that during a visit to Australia for a conference in May, the Fr Barreto had been full of an awful foreboding about the pending events in East Timor.
    "While he was there, and I was with him when it happened, a mobile phone call came in from Dili and the voice said to him 'don't you dare come back to Dili, we're going to kill you, you're on our hit list'," Bishop Deakin said.
    In other reports, six nuns from the Canossian order were reportedly killed in the city of Baucau, 115 kilometres east of Dili. Confirmation of the slaughter came yesterday from the headquarters of the Canossian Sisters order in Darwin, the East Timor Human Rights Centre in Melbourne, Caritas, and church sources in the West Timorese town of Atambua.
    Late last night, international media was reporting that up to 40 Caritas employees in East Timor had also been murdered.
    ``It is now obvious that the violence is reaching everyone and that there is a pattern of the Catholic Church being attacked,'' said Ms Ana Noronha, the director of the East Timor Human Rights Commission.
    She said information on most of the deaths had been sent to the UN.
    UN officials were trying to verify reports that up to 250 people were massacred soon after the UN withdrew from Suai last Sunday.
    A spokeswoman for Caritas in Australia said priests have been identified as supporting independence because pro-independence supporters had begun seeking shelter in church buildings in the past months.
    A spokeswoman for the Canossian order in Darwin said the sisters were ``devastated'' by the news and believed an unknown number of church workers in Suai and elsewhere had also been killed. The chairman of Caritas Australia, Bishop Hilton Deakin, said: ``These murderous attacks on the church are part of a much wider unjust genocide.
    ``When Catholic Church members, who have offered relief and refuge to East Timorese, are struck down, we realise there is no respect for any life in East Timor.''
    Militia stabbed Bishop Basilio Nascimento while he was protecting refugees in Baucau and burnt his house before he fled the city.
    One UN staff member still in the Dili compound is a Jesuit priest, Fr Peter Hosking. Fr Hosking is a psychologist who has been providing trauma counselling to relief workers.
    In Melbourne, Fr Peter Norden, of Jesuit Social Services, said it was essential for the UN and the Australian Government to maintain a presence in Dili.
    Age, ABC, ABC & JRS 11:41am 10/9/99

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