CHINA / National

242 Chinese leave riot-plagued Dili
Updated: 2006-05-29 17:10

Altogether 242 Chinese people, mainly small-time businessmen, left Dili on Monday afternoon for Xiamen City, Fujian Province of China, leaving behind their shops and easy homes amid sporadic shooting, fire setting and looting.

Two Boeing aircraft carrying them departed the Dili Airport around 03:30 pm local time, which was just one of the many evacuations in recent days.

Five officials from Foreign Ministry of China accompanied evacuees back to Xiaman.

There were some 500 Chinese people living in Dili, over 200 of whom had left on themselves earlier, said Chinese Ambassador Su Jian.

With Monday's departure, only few Chinese people were left in Dili to take care of their shops in case of looting by the local people, he added.

Sporadic shooting could still be heard in the capital on Monday, while several luxurious houses possibly owned by high ranking government officials were burned.

More soldiers and policemen arrived here from Australia and New Zealand to safeguard the city, where the national police and military forces had collapsed and the rioters took to the streets instead.

Tension was high in recent days as some 600 people sacked from the military in April set fire on houses and exchanged fire with Timor-Leste soldiers earlier this week.

At least 23 people have been killed and dozens wounded since the open fighting began.

Reports said that the current riots was triggered off by the faction clashes within the military and the government and might escalate into civil war.

Timor-Leste got independence in 2002 following a referendum in 1999.