Pro-Indonesian militias continued their campaign of violence and thousands of people fled East Timor on Sunday, as diplomats and U.N. officials said signs were mounting that military and police units were participating in the attacks.
There has been no evidence that the central government is intervening to stop the chaos that intensified Saturday after the announcement that nearly four-fifths of East Timorese who went to the polls last week voted to reject an offer of autonomy and thus break away from Indonesia.
"There is every indication that a massacre is taking place, staged by [Indonesian] military forces," Ana Gomes, Lisbon's envoy to Jakarta, told Portugal's TSF radio on Sunday. "Over 100 dead would be a conservative estimate."
A U.N. official said this morning that there were unconfirmed reports of as many as 200 people dead in Dili. The United Nations said it would evacuate 200 staff members to Australia today, and one convoy en route to the airport was fired on by militias.
The Mahkota Hotel in downtown Dili, where many U.N. staff members and journalists were housed, was set ablaze on Sunday. The nearby Turismo Hotel also was attacked and journalists were forced to leave. The U.N. compound was crowded with refugees -- many cut and bleeding after scrambling over razor wire to get inside -- and was under siege Sunday night, with gunfire heard all around. Water and electricity were cut off in some parts of the city, and the seaside capital's night sky was glowing from fires.
Indonesia's armed forces chief, Gen. Wiranto, flew to Dili for crisis talks with his military commanders Sunday, but there was no word on any new initiatives. However, he did affirm an earlier promise to send 1,400 troops to maintain order.
In New York, the U.N. Security Council met in emergency session to fashion a reaction to the deteriorating situation. Diplomats said there was continued resistance from the council to the rapid deployment of a U.N. mission with the mandate to impose law and order. Instead, the council condemned the violence and agreed to send a small delegation to Jakarta to meet with Indonesian authorities and discuss "concrete steps to allow the peaceful implementation of the ballot result."
The U.N. Secretariat, meanwhile, conferred with representatives from a small group of countries -- including Portugal, Australia and New Zealand -- who have been considering whether to commit troops to a military intervention force to stop the violence. Portugal also sought to ratchet up pressure on the United States to put its political muscle behind the immediate deployment of such an intervention force.
As anarchy spread, diplomats, U.N. officials and others said there were increasing indications that Indonesian army and police forces have joined in the violence.
It has long been known that some members of the Indonesian police are sympathetic to the militias, which were trained by the military as a counterforce to the pro-independence movement. So far, the pro-independence guerrillas are maintaining a cease-fire, in hopes that the central government or foreign powers will intervene. But if the guerrillas get involved, the fighting could become significantly bloodier.
Officials speaking on the condition of anonymity said they had confirmed that a U.N. convoy traveling from Liquica to Dili on Saturday was fired on at three checkpoints by national police, who had manned roadblocks with militia members.
Many victims of the latest violence were shot with high-velocity assault rifles. In the past, the militias have used crude homemade weapons.
A Filipino doctor working at a Catholic clinic said he had treated four teenage gunshot victims from the Becora neighborhood, and all had been shot with military assault rifles. "All the injuries you could see were from high-velocity rifles," he said. "You could see it from the wound."
One policeman outside the Turismo Hotel said before it was evacuated that he considered militia members his friends and would not shoot them if the hotel were attacked. "What they are doing is good for the country," he said.
Other sources said they believed members of the military's feared special forces unit, known as Kopassus, had donned militia T-shirts and were participating in some of the violence.
The active involvement of Kopassus members in the violence, if confirmed, would add a dangerous and unexpected element to East Timor's downward slide. Rogue elements from Kopassus have been implicated in the kidnapping and assassination of political dissidents during the last days of President Suharto's government, in the sniping deaths of four students at Trisakti University last year, and in the May 1998 riots in Jakarta that left more than 1,000 people dead.
Ten Kopassus members were arrested last year for their role in the kidnappings.
Diplomats and other analysts have long suspected a "third force" behind much of East Timor's militia violence, as hard-liners in the Indonesian armed forces may have wanted to disrupt last week's referendum on autonomy to prevent separatist sentiment from spreading across the archipelago.
One diplomat, speaking anonymously, said earlier that "a special black operations unit within Kopassus" was the main instigator of the militia violence. "You won't ever see them," he said. "They won't necessarily be the people wearing uniforms."
Eurico Guterres, who heads the Aitarak "Thorn" militia, also alluded last week in a news conference to an unnamed "third force" that he said was behind the violence.
East Timorese have long assumed that the militia violence was being orchestrated at the top levels of the armed forces.
After Mass Sunday morning, Bishop Carlos Belo, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was asked why the militias were still engaged in their campaign of terror, even after the referendum results made it clear that most people here favored independence. He replied: "You ask the commander of the military. You ask him."
Olandina Kairu, a prominent pro-independence leader who has sought shelter at Belo's compound, along with 2,000 other refugees, also said she believed the armed forces were behind the violence. "From the beginning, this has been planned by the military," she said. "If the military withdraw their support, there would be no militia."
Special correspondent Colum Lynch in New York contributed to this report.