International peacekeepers visits East Timor

Gunfights in East Timor's capital killed an army captain Thursday as Australia and New Zealand sent troops to help the tiny nation quell a rebellion by disgruntled ex-soldiers.

Firefights between the army and dismissed soldiers erupted in several areas around the capital, Dili, in the third day of violence, and homes and business were torched, an Associated Press reporter at the scene said.

Capt. Domingos Kaykery Oliveira was killed in the clashes, a military spokesman for Maj. Domingos da Camara said.

At least three people have been killed and eight injured in unrest in the capital this week, prompting the fledgling nation's government to ask for international troops just days after celebrating East Timor's fourth anniversary of independence from Indonesia.

Neighboring Australia was sending 1,300 troops, ships, helicopters and armored personnel carriers to Dili, while New Zealand sent 60 police and soldiers. Portugal, the tiny nation's former colonizer, also agreed to send forces though it had yet to determine how many.

Australian Defense Minister Brendan Nelson said some of his country's troops could be in place by later Thursday. Australia has said its troops could help secure the capital, but would not be drawn into firefights between the two sides.

The country has been plagued by unrest since March when nearly 600 soldiers, a third of its armed forces, were fired after going on strike to protest alleged discrimination in the military, reports the AP.

I.L.