Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Army (TNI AD) received 235 improvised firearms left over from the 1999 East Timorese crisis from East Nusa Tenggara residents living on the Indonesia-Timor Leste border.

The crisis refers to violence that erupted between pro-Indonesia and pro-independence factions in East Timor (then an Indonesian province) in the lead-up to its separation and independence in 2002.

"The 235 improvised firearms are collected in territorial operations conducted by the RI-Timor Leste border security task force working in the western and eastern sectors," said Brigadier General Joao Xavier Barreto Nunes, 161/Wira Sakti Sub-regional Military Commander, on Wednesday.

The firearms were handed over by residents to Army officers from 2022 to 2024, he remarked.

Apart from the 235 improvised firearms, six improvised firearms and one improvised pistol were also handed over by residents to officers of the 6/Naga Karimata Cavalry Battalion unit of the RI-Timor Leste border security task force in the western sector, Nunes noted.

The local military commander said that residents had been informed by officers on several occasions about the importance of handing over firearms to the authorities.

Nunes said that disposal of the handed weapons is pending instruction from the IX/Udayana Regional Military Command based in Denpasar, Bali.

"We are still waiting for instructions on whether the firearms will be destroyed by the Regional Military Command or the Sub-regional Military Command," he revealed.

Nunes encouraged other residents still holding firearms left by the conflict to surrender them to the authorities to prevent incidents and possible legal action in the future. He also encouraged the Timorese on the other side of the border to do the same.

Meanwhile, a former pro-Indonesia fighter during Timor Leste's integration into Indonesia, Alfonso Hendrikus da Costa Soares, said that he decided to surrender his firearms because the war was over.

"Now is no longer the time to take up arms, but to use a hoe on the farm to support my family," Soares remarked.

He stated that Indonesia is now a safer country, adding that residents in border areas should play their part in maintaining peace and security in their community.

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Translator: Kornelis Kaha, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Anton Santoso
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