Brazilian Missionary Murdered in East Timor

Monday, November 20, 2006

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

DILI, EAST TIMOR (ANS) -- A Brazilian missionary was murdered in Dili, as new fighting flared in the capital of East Timor late on Sunday, Nov.19 according to a U.N. spokeswoman and a government statement said on Monday, November 20, 2006.

This news was released by SVM News Service in which it reported that a statement from the prime minister's office in East Timor, Southeast Asia's newest nation, said the victim is a protestant missionary of the Assemblies of God named Edgar Goncalves Brito, 32. They did not elaborate on how he died.

Donna Cusumano, the U.N. spokeswoman confirmed the death but could give no more details on the incident. “The U.N. police are gathering up the details, the investigation is ongoing at the moment,” she said.

A source close to the Brazilian embassy confirmed the man died about 8 pm local time (2200 AEDT) and said the victim's body had been taken to a clinic in the suburb of Bairro Pite.

Eyewitness Elizabete da Silva said she saw the man die as a mob attacked his car and killed him as he was driving near East Timor's main hospital in Dili. “He was our neighbor. I saw them stop his car, drag him out and cut his throat,” she said.

It was the first foreign death in the sporadic East Timor conflict since it erupted in April.

UN police were at the scene soon after the murder and were reported to have used rubber bullets to quell the crowd.

“A rival groups of people had been involved in clashes around and inside the hospital grounds since Friday, wounding 15 people, including five with arrows lodged in their bodies and three with bullet wounds,” said the SVM News Service story.

“Battles among gangs of youths are common in the impoverished country, which only gained full independence from Indonesia in 2002 and where youth unemployment is widespread.

“Last month, authorities were forced to shut Dili's international airport after gang clashes, involving guns and bows and arrows, killed at least two people.”

The former Portuguese colony has been struggling to return to stability after plunging into chaos in April and May when a series of protests developed into widespread violence after 600 members of the 1400-strong army were sacked.

Only days earlier rival factions had united in a peace march through the city.

An estimated 100,000 people were displaced in the fighting, which led to deployment of a 2500-strong international peacekeeping force.

A strengthened police element in the force has so far struggled to contain the sporadic violence.