Subject: Indon troops arrive in W Timor to disarm East Timor refugees

Also: Pro-Jakarta militia in last ditch recruitment drive: UN

Indonesian troops arrive in West Timor to disarm East Timor refugees

JAKARTA, Oct 19 (AFP) - Some 350 Indonesian soldiers have arrived at a refugee-packed border town in West Timor, pledging to disarm all those from East Timor who have been sheltering there since last month, a report said Tuesday.

The men, from the airborne battalion of Ujungpandang in South Sulawesi, arrived in Atambua late on Sunday, the Kompas daily said.

"We do not want to turn Atambua or any other area in Timor that is part of East Nusatenggara (province) into a military base for East Timorese fighters," battalion commander Major H.H. Eriet was quoted as saying in Motaain town, some 25 kilometers (16 miles) north of Atambua.

He called on all East Timorese who have crossed the border into the Belu region, whose main town is Atambua, to hand over their weapons to security personnel.

"If not, at the appropriate time, we will take them by force," Eriet said.

He also said that his battalion was tasked with assisting the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to assist in assuring security for the repatriation of East Timor refugees by land, sea and air.

His battalion was also awaiting further details in conducting a joint patrol of the border area with the International Force for East Timor (Interfet) deployed over the border.

The Belu district has received the main bulk of the some 260,000 East Timorese who fled or were forced to flee into West Timor following violence by militiamen opposed to East Timor's vote for independence.

The pro-Indonesian militiamen, many of them armed, have so far ruled the refugee camps in Belu and in Kupang, the main city in West Timor.

But World Food Program officials said that thousands of displaced East Timorese could return home overland Tuesday after militiamen in West Timor relaxed their grip on the refugee camps.

The militias, whose leaders have pledged to fight Interfet to regain possession of East Timor, have also set up training bases for their men in areas of Belu.

Indonesia's national assembly is expected Tuesday to officially recognize East Timor's August 30 vote for independence and declare null and void a 1978 decree annexing the territory.


Pro-Jakarta militia in last ditch recruitment drive: UN

DILI, East Timor, Oct 19 (AFP) - Pro-Jakarta militia have launched a last-ditch bid to recruit teenagers and young men in the West Timor refugee camps before they flee across the border, a UNHCR official said Tuesday.

"There appears to be a recruitment drive from what we understand are militia elements," Bernard Kerblat, emergency response team leader for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in East Timor told AFP.

"They are particularly targetting teenagers and young men and that is very worrying for us."

He said the UNHCR was in high-level discussions with the Indonesian authorities to try and halt the drive.

"We hope this is a phenomenon that will soon disappear," he said, adding it was unclear whether recruitment was being enforced.

"Like everything in the scheme of things, where do you draw the line between force and persuasion, and full adherence," he asked. "It is very difficult to distinguish."

News of the recruitment push was relayed to UNHCR staff on the ground in the western East Timorese town of Maliana by teenagers who joined a mass exodus across the border from camps around the West Timor border city of Atambua Tuesday.

"We believe they are the true testimonies of some of the teeenagers who have run away and said they don't want to be a part of it ... that it is indeed taking place in the camps," he said.

Kerbalt said there no figures on how many had signed up, but recruitment had been taking place over the past few days.

He did not say if part of the militia plan might be to use returning refugees as a way to infiltrate East Timor.

There was no information on what part, if any, the Indonesian military were playing in the recruitment drive.

"The only thing I can tell you is that notwithstanding the climate that is prevailing here, we are still maintaining a very fruitful dialogue with our partners from the government of Indonesia," Kerblat said.

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