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Multinational peacekeeping forces said today they had arrested a leader of a notorious anti-independence militia, a move intended to send a message to those out to wreak havoc in East Timor.

"You can't run, you can't hide, justice is here," said Maj. Chip Henriss-Anderssen, who announced the arrest of Caitano Da Silva, a platoon commander and the most senior member of the Aitarak militia to be caught so far.

Da Silva, who was arrested at the hotel that once was the group's headquarters, is among dozens of suspected militia members the international forces have detained since arriving in Dili on Monday. They have also confiscated hundreds of weapons.

Hundreds and perhaps thousands of people were killed when the militias went on a rampage of killing and looting after residents voted Aug. 30 to break away from Indonesia. Human rights groups say the operation was orchestrated by the military to annul the vote.

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