East Timor's international airport was closed today after rival armed groups clashed near the capital, Australian officials and a witness said.
At least one civilian was killed in the fighting which erupted on Tuesday when a group of youths attacked a refugee camp near the airport, said the source in Dili who requested anonymity. Shots were fired, and stones and fuel bombs were thrown during the fighting, according to the source who said he was with the tiny country's social affairs minister, Arsenio Bono, when the fighting spread to the airport.
The pair were among several people trapped for several hours at the airport which was closed after all those inside were ordered to leave under the guard of United Nations peacekeepers, he said.
The foreign ministry in Canberra confirmed the closure of the airport due to the fighting, while the defence ministry said one of its soldiers stationed at the airfield had fired on a Timorese man.
"Initial reports are that a Timor-Leste national approached an Australian Defence Force position with a firearm and acted in a threatening manner," a defence spokeswoman said.