This scene from the movie shows the Indonesian troops during their assault on Balibo.

The Indonesian government lied about its involvement in the attack. It pretended that the attacks were carried out by pro-Indonesian Timorese militias and Indonesian volunteers. It informed the Australian government in advance about this plan. The Australian government went along with the pretence.

By disguising themselves as civilians, the Indonesian troops violated the law of armed conflict by breaching the prohibition on Perfidy (feigning civilian status). This law is contained in the 1907 Hague Regulations (Convention on Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land). It is also contained in the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions.

The attack on Balibo began with heavy artillery bombardment from the ships off Batugade at dawn around 4 a.m. on 16th October 1975. It was accompanied by mortar fire from the surrounding hills. According to the evidence of Sabica (Americo Ximenes), when the bombardment started he went to see the journalists along with some of his troops at approximately 4.20 a.m. Three of the journalists were filming out of a window. Sabica said, "Come on, come on", inviting them to leave with him. The response was, "Aguenta, aguenta" (hang on, hang on) and "Um momento, um momento" (in a moment). When Sabica spoke to the journalists, the Indonesian troops had not yet entered the town square.

The attack was launched from three directions. One company entered from the Maliana Road, another from the Cova Road while Team Susi led by Yunus Yosfiah was in the forefront of the middle force. Team Susi members did not wear uniforms. Four journalists emerged from the Chinese house with their hands in the air in a gesture of surrender. They were all wearing civilian clothing. Brian Peters was in front of the others.

The journalists were not mistaken for combatants. In addition, they clearly identified themselves as Australians and as journalists. Yunus Yosfiah was about a metre in front of the rest of his team facing Brian Peters. He opened fire along with the others in his team. The shooting lasted only a couple of minutes. The five corpses were dressed in military uniforms, guns placed beside them, and photographs taken in an attempt to portray them as legitimate targets.