Muliawan, 26, had been in Dili since February working on a television documentary about Falintil, the largest East Timorese guerrilla group favoring independence from Indonesia. The journalist was Balinese and had established working relationships with many Indonesian military officials.
Muliawan was traveling by van with a group that included the head of the Caritas Roman Catholic aid agency, two students from a local seminary, two nuns, two assistants to the nuns, and a driver, according to Western news reports. The gunmen apparently attacked the group at a roadblock after nightfall in the town of Com as they drove from Los Palos, where they had been on a humanitarian mission, to Baucau. The bodies of Muliawan and the other victims were found in the van, which had been pushed into the Raomoko River, 38 miles (60 kilometers) from Baucau.