20 August 2006

Peacekeeper killed in East timor

New Zealand soldier found mutilated in East Timor

By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS, July 28 (Reuters) - The New Zealand peacekeeper killed in East Timor this week was mutilated by pro-Indonesian gunmen, possibly so they could collect payments for his death, U.N. and New Zealand officials said on Friday.

Fred Eckhard, the chief U.N. spokesman, said the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), ``has acknowledged that there were some signs of mutilation on the body of this New Zealand soldier who was killed.''

Other U.N. sources said his ears had been cut off, possibly as a trophy in order to collect a bounty from wealthy East Timor exiles who had ordered gangs to target U.N. troops as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia.

Eckhard said he had no proof of the bounty.

The soldier, Leonard William Manning, 24, a private of the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, was on a patrol tracking militia in the rugged Suai border area on Monday when gunmen crossing over from West Timor shot him.

During a Friday Security Council debate on East Timor, New Zealand's U.N. ambassador, Michael John Powles, announced that Manning's body ``was found to have been mutilated'' when it was recovered hours after he was killed, the first U.N. soldier to die in combat in East Timor.

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