Australia is strengthening its force in East Timor to try to contain raging mob violence.The violence broke out last month after the government sacked hundreds of dissident soldiers from the East Timorese army. Since then rival gangs allied to feuding police or military units have gone on the rampage, torching homes and vehicles across the capital, Dili. But some residents say the rebellion has turned into a protest against the government which they accuse of failing to deliver any social or economic developments. Australia is sending hundreds more troops to the region to beef up the multi-national peacekeeping operation after the government appealed for help. The reinforcements take Australia’s presence on the ground to 1,800 troops. The soldiers seemed to have held back from direct engagements, as reports from Dili say the security situation appears to be improving. But machete wielding gangs are still very much in evidence. The Red Cross says some 50,000 people have been made homeless.
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