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East Timor president imposes emergency rule as office of attorney general looted

[JURIST] East Timor President Xanana Gusmao [official profile; BBC profile] said Tuesday that he is taking control of national security and defense in response to the increasing and often violent unrest [BBC report; UNOTIL updates] related to the March firing of 600 troops that went on strike [BBC report]. By consolidating power, Gusmao will be able to control both the East Timor Army and police forces, which are sharply divided by internal disputes and gang related violence. BBC News has more.

The imposition of emergency rule will last for 30 days and comes shortly after violence and looting began in the capital city of Dili. A mob looted the Attorney General's office Tuesday, hitting the Serious Crimes Office containing unreleased evidence of massacres committed by militias working with Indonesia [PBS backgrounder] during East Timor's break from Indonesia in 1999. Authorities do not believe that the mob sought to destroy evidence from the massacre, but just looted computers and other valuable materials from the Attorney General's office. The Irish Examiner has more. The Sydney Morning Herald has local coverage.

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