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Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia plans to send 500 military and police personnel to serve as peacekeepers in violence-wracked East Timor, the government said on Thursday.
Malaysia has agreed to the East Timorese government's request for peacekeeping troops to quell growing unrest in the fledgling nation, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak was quoted as saying by the national news agency, Bernama.
A preliminary team of 25 army troops was dispatched to Dili, the capital, on Thursday morning to survey the situation, Najib said. He did not elaborate on when the others would follow, but said the eventual number of personnel might change depending on the circumstances.
A defence ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said the other troops would leave "as soon as possible".
East Timor is the world's youngest nation and has been plagued by unrest since March when a third of its armed forces were fired after going on strike to protest alleged discrimination in the military.
The unrest spread last week, prompting the government to ask for international troops.
Earlier on Thursday, Malaysian national police chief, Inspector General Bakri Omar, said Malaysian police were ready to go to East Timor as peacekeepers.
Bakri said a police team would be sent to assess the situation and the type of personnel that would need to be deployed. The team would make a report "maybe within one week", he said.
"My boys are ready. We have to be ready all the time," he said. "The situation is quite bad." - Sapa-AP