A first contingent of Australian troops has arrived in East Timor to try to quell unrest that has claimed at least 12 lives in recent weeks. The commandos who landed at the airport of the capital, Dili, are the vanguard of an expected larger foreign military and police force.
The UN Security Council is due to formally approve the deployment of international troops in the tiny former Portuguese colony in the coming days. . Fighting between government forces and rebel soldiers erupted last month after the administration sacked hundreds of members of the security forces. As the violence intensifies foreign nationals have begun leaving the country. The leader of the rebel soldiers has said his group wants peace but accused the government of the fledgling nation of incompetence. It is the worst crisis to hit East Timor since the population voted for independence from Indonesia. Subsequent violence by pro-Indonesian militias claimed around a thousand lives. It was eventually quelled by an Australian-led UN force. Some analysts have said the return of foreign soldiers shows East Timor is not ready to stand on its own.