NTT discusses border tension with Timor Leste
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The situation on the border of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) and Timor Leste remains tense following a clash between residents from Timor Tengah Utara regency and Ambenu, Oekussi district, Timor Leste, over territorial claims on both sides.
No casualties were reported in the clash on Wednesday, in which both sides used sharp weapons, but the incident has further inflamed the situation on the border.
As of Thursday noon, hundreds of residents in Haumeni Ana village were still on alert, monitoring the activities of Timor Leste residents in the disputed zone. Earlier, they had demolished an immigration station built by the Timor Leste government.
Residents also approached an Indonesian Military (TNI) post and protested against the TNI allowing Timor Leste to build several facilities in the neutral zone.
NTT Governor Frans Leburaya met with Udayana Military Commander Maj. Gen. Wisnu Bawa Tenaya in Kupang on Thursday to discuss the tensions between residents in Haumeni Ana village and those from Ambenu, Timor Leste.
The closed-door meeting was held at El Tari Airport in Kupang. After the meeting, Leburaya told the media that TNI soldiers and Timor Leste authorities had coordinated to avoid conflict involving residents on both sides of the border.
“Every party must restrain itself. Should there be territory that is still being disputed, it should be vacated because according to the agreement, the disputed territory is a neutral zone,” said Leburaya.
According to him, the military commander had visited the disputed location and held a meeting with a number of parties to prevent provocation that could affect the situation on the border.
Timor Tengah Utara Military District Command chief Lt. Col. Arm Eusebio Rebelo Hornai said in a press conference that tension between residents on both sides was frequent due to the Timor Leste government’s stance of setting up a number of offices, including an immigration station, in the neutral zone.
When reached separately, Indonesia-Timor Leste Border Security Unit commander Lt. Col. Andre Saputro denied the clash between Haumeni Ana residents and Oekussi residents had taken place.
“There was no conflict. Some residents were apparently angry because Timor Leste wished to build a number of facilities in the neutral zone, but there was no physical conflict,” he said.
According to him, security forces from both countries had coordinated to prevent a physical clash between residents living around the border.