Although the first of the Hercules planes touched down late yesterday afternoon followed soon after by an Australian frigate, last night remained a difficult night.
It is purely a logistical thing. Until the vehicles hit the ground and all the accommodation stuff, it is difficult for the boys to go far in safety, but I guess the first points to protect were the airport and OZ embassy.
This morning, planes were cutting the air for the the first hour or two after dawn. I didn’t hear much until the first reports came in after lunch about the death of a mother and 5 children in a rather gruesome fashion. Those reports had hit the web sites within 2 hours of the bodies being confirmed by 2 Kiwi defence guys. I knew the press were now going to be onto anything that smelt of a story.
I have heard anecdotal evidence that there is probably a fair bit more of this sort of stuff. The Taibesse/Becora area has been the scene of gunfights almost continually for a couple of days. And I heard yesterday that Tibar may have a few problems but with no-one there to report it.
I didn’t know when would be a good time to get out and about again, but I was assured tonight that OZ troops were indeed patroling in central Dili. I playfully thought that they would also protect the supermarkets and a few key bars around town. So yes, I will be getting out tomorrow during daylight, but central Dili only and well clear of the UN Obrigado Barracks.
Basically, the closer you are to the sea, the safer you are likely to be.
Later in the afternoon, UN choppers streaked low over town several times. They sure make a racket when flying low. I was told they were shipping police who had sought refuge there. There was said to be a group of FDTL (army) outside wanting to cause trouble so the UN decided to move the trouble.
Later, the first sign of OZ choppers appeared in the skies. Meanwhile, all day the OZ naval presence was wandering up and down the coast. This evening, there is the rather unusual sound in Dili of aircraft after dark. It appears to be planes coming in and leaving at regular intervals. I suppose this is how one delivers 1300 troops in a hurry.
So I expect tomorrow to be a key positive day from a security point of view. From a political point of view, what a schemozzle.