05 September 2008

Timor police to take over security in May - UN official

04 Sep 2008 12:01:28 GMT By Tito Belo DILI, (Reuters) - The U.N. mission in East Timor said on Thursday it expected the country's police force to take over full responsibility for security from the international force by May 2009.

The U.N. mission (UNMIT) deployed some 1,500 police officers this year to support East Timor's national police force of 3,000 local officers, leading security measures and providing training.

East Timor has been struggling to get back on its feet after the army tore apart along regional lines in 2006. A group of 600 soldiers were then sacked, triggering violence that killed 37 people and drove 150,000 from their homes.

East Timor President Ramos-Horta was shot and seriously wounded at his home in the capital Dili in an assassination attempt by rebel soldiers on Feb. 11. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao escaped injury in another shooting on the same day.

"We will stay together with Timor police to accompany this transition and to assist in the first step of working independently from U.N. police," UNMIT's acting police commissioner Juan Carlos Arevalo told journalists in Dili.

The mission will give advice, provide training, and monitor the performance of Timor police, Arevalo said. (Writing by Olivia Rondonuwu; editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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