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East Timor rebel leader escapes from prison 30/08/2006
22:38:54

One of the East Timorese rebel leaders associated with recent violence in the country has escaped from jail with 55 other prisoners.

Alfredo Reinado broke out of the Becora prison in the capital, Dili, earlier in the day and is now on the run.

A massive search is now underway involving international soldiers and police.

The United Nations says none of the escapees has any firearms.

Attempted murder claims

Major Reinado was arrested with 20 other men in July over their role in the violence that erupted in and around Dili in April and May.

He has been charged with several offences, including attempted murder and the embezzlement of military property.

In late May, the rebel leader led a group of fellow military police into the mountains behind Dili, refusing to give up their weapons until the then prime minister, Mari Alkatiri, resigned from office.

At least 21 people died during the violence in East Timor and 150,000 others were displaced.

The unrest had its origins in the March sacking of about 600 soldiers, who had deserted their barracks complaining of discrimination.

Produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation

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