Subject: Indonesia wants U.N. aid workers back in W. Timor

Indonesia wants U.N. aid workers back in W. Timor

ATAMBUA, Indonesia, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Indonesian police on Wednesday asked the United Nations to resume humanitarian operations in West Timor, suspended since September after the murder of three U.N. workers.

But the head of a U.N. Security Council mission to the West Timor border town of Atambua said it was still too soon to return.

More than 120,000 East Timorese have been stuck in refugee camps on the border, herded there a year ago by pro-Jakarta militia who, with the backing of Indonesian troops, went on a campaign of destruction after the tiny territory voted to end 23 years of brutal Jakarta rule.

"We understand that without international humanitarian aid these problems will go on and on," provincial police chief, Brigadier-General Made Pastika, told reporters.

"We are trying our best to restore general security and add power to the local police with assistance from TNI (military). We have 600 special forces...they will stay until replaced by another battalion," Pastika said.

The police chief said six former pro-Jakarta militiamen had been arrested in connection with the September 6 attack on the Atambua compound of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in which three international staff were murdered and their bodies dumped on a fire.

Pastika rejected a claim by Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid implicating notorious militia leader Eurico Guterres, who is still under arrest in Jakarta, in the attack.

"Eurico Guterres was not involved in the attack -- he was not there. He was in Kupang," he said.

Earlier on Wednesday delegates from a U.N. Security Council mission visiting Atambua, led by Namibian ambassador Martin Andjaba, laid flowers at the site where their three U.N. colleagues were butchered.

The white concrete bungalow in the town centre is cordoned off by police tape. A charred pile of office furniture lying in front of the ransacked building marks the remains of the fire into which the mutilated bodies of the U.N. workers were thrown.

A massive security presence was evident for the U.N. visit with hundreds of armed police and soldiers deployed on street corners in Atambua as well as refugee settlements and camps along the road leading into town.

Speaking at a nearby Haliwen refugee camp, Andjaba said he was unable to recommend an immediate resumption of humanitarian aid operations by the U.N.

Earlier, Andjaba said he was waiting for Indonesia to meet conditions so that aid workers could be sent back. One condition is certain to be the guarantee of safety for U.N. staff.

The ramshackle collection of thatched roof huts, home to some 2,000 families, is situated within the walled confines of the town's football stadium.

Andjaba said he welcomed pledges by the main pro-integration group, UNTAS, condemning the use of violence.

"Yesterday, some members of the delegation met with members of UNTAS...UNTAS has renounced violence and condemned the killings of the U.N. personnel in Atambua."

Speaking on condition of anonymity, several members of the Security Council delegation -- which includes seven ambassadors -- said Haliwen refugees appeared to be intimidated by groups of young men watching carefully who was speaking to the U.N. and accompanying journalists.

There was no sign of any armed militia, but Indonesian military-style clothing was hanging on washing lines in the camp, which appeared to have a large population of young men of military age.

Indonesia's regional military commander, Major General Kiki Syahnakri told reporters that 90 percent of weapons formerly in the hands of pro-Jakarta militia had been confiscated.

One East Timorese refugee, Marcus Goncalvas, 27, from the western town of Maliana, told reporters he wanted to return home.

"For me I'd like to go back to Maliana. It's my town and it's my country," he said.

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