NZ Troops Move Out of Dili

  • Max Bradford
Defence

The New Zealand Victor Company Group of approximately 130 soldiers had moved from the East Timor capital Dili, Defence Minister Max Bradford confirmed today.

The troops moved over the weekend to the town of Suai, on the southwest coast of East Timor to secure the airfield and facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid.

"The isolated Suai region is a strategically important one, and the assignment reflects the high regard in which the New Zealand personnel are held," Mr Bradford said.

New Zealand currently has around 550 personnel in East Timor; 200 Army personnel, 90 Air Force supporting three Iroquois helicopters, and 250 Navy personnel on the frigate HMNZS Canterbury and tanker HMNZS Endeavour.

Approximately 400 soldiers, the balance of New Zealand's Battalion Group, will leave Ohakea for Townsville on Airforce Boeing 727s between today and October 18.

After acclimatisation and and deployment preparations, the troops will begin moving forward to East Timor. It is expected the bulk of the Battalion will be in East Timor by late October.

During this week, an additional three Air Force Iroquois helicopters and approximately 20 Air Force personnel will deploy to East Timor on Air Force Hercules Aircraft.

The 21 Armoured Personnel Carriers, stores and support equipment that left Wellington at the end of September are due to arrive in Darwin today.