UN BRINGS ITS OWN GUN LAW TO TIMOR; INTO ACTION: Militiamen Arrested as Troops Hunt Ambushed Brit

Article excerpt

UNITED NATIONS troops in East Timor have begun rounding up militiamen held responsible for widespread atrocities.

Soldiers also mounted a huge operation last night to pinpoint and rescue a veteran British war correspondent, who had narrowly escaped kidnap.

The mainly Australian UN force were taking no chances and maintained peace down the barrel of a gun yesterday.

One group of militiaman were arrested at a checkpoint outside the airport in the capital, Dili.

Soldiers found a pistol, machete and home-made weapons in their car.

And the danger in East Timor was underlined after journalist Jon Swain's car was attacked three miles from Dili.

He has braved troublespots around the world and a character based on Swain appeared in the film The Killing Fields, about Cambodian genocide.

Swain was yesterday forced to hide in woodland with an American photographer after fleeing for their lives.

But it's thought his driver had his eye gouged out and a translator travelling with them was taken away by the militia.

Richard Caseby, Swain's managing editor, said: "They were stopped by the militia. There was a serious attack on the driver.

"Jon and the photographer escaped and they went to hide in some bush and woodland nearby.

"The latest position is that Jon is unhurt and we believe the photographer is also unhurt. They are trying to make contact with UN peacekeepers."

Swain had been in contact with his newspaper, the Sunday Times, by satellite phone.

Armoured personnel carriers were on their way to rescue him and the photographer, Chip Hires, who works for a news agency. A helicopter with heat-seeking equipment was also trying to pinpoint their position.

Swain, 51, had only arrived in East Timor yesterday and was on his way to the town of Bacau, 80 miles east of Dili.

He is an award-winning journalist and has covered Vietnam and Cambodia. The story of how his life was saved by a translator was portrayed in The Killing Fields.

Meanwhile, British Army Gurkhas taking part in the East Timor peacekeeping operation went on patrol as carefully as if they were in Ulster at the height of the Troubles. One platoon of the 250-strong force of Nepalese soldiers were ordered to secure and guard the area around the UN Mission in Dili.

Around its walls, pro-government militiamen committed some of the worst of the carnage.

Their killing spree followed East Timor's vote for independence from Indonesia three weeks ago. …