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Monday, October 18, 1999 Published at 09:49 GMT 10:49 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Killings and rapes in Timor enclave

Children scavenge on the streets in wake of East Timor violence

An East Timor pro-independence leader has accused peacekeeping forces of ignoring the plight of the people of Oecussi - the East Timor enclave in West Timor.

Taur Matan Ruak, a commander of East Timor's pro-independence Falintil rebels, says Indonesian troops and their militia allies have killed 50 people and raped many women in the enclave.

[ image: Oecussi linked by single road]
Oecussi linked by single road
Oecussi is on the northern coast of Indonesian-held West Timor and is connected to the rest of East Timor by an 80-kilometre (50-mile) stretch of road.

Peacekeeping officials say there are plans to move Interfet troops into Oecussi but they have hinted that this will not happen until more troops arrive, to bring the force to its full complement of 8,000.

East Timor
Colonel Mark Kelly, chief of staff of the Australian-led multinational force said: "We've always considered that the Oecussi enclave was a clear part of our mandate and was included in the overall territory of East Timor".

The BBC's Jill McGivering: Officials admit they don't know what is happening on the ground
Pro-independence leader Taur Matan Ruak said; "Our people are being wiped out, they are surrounded, they cannot escape.

"There is no excuse for Interfet's inaction, and if they delay further, it will be too late".

A spokesman for Caritas, the aid agency responsible for helping the enclave, said reports from the area suggested Oecussi was in dire need of everything from food and medical care to shelter.

But, she added, the security situation made it impossible for humanitarian aid to be delivered.

[ image: British Gurkhas hear tales of mass killings]
British Gurkhas hear tales of mass killings
Jakarta reluctantly agreed to allow Interfet into East Timor on 20 September to restore order after anti-independence militias backed by the Indonesian military went on the rampage.

The killings and destruction followed an overwhelming vote for independence by East Timor's 850,000 people, in a referendum on 30 August.

For months, human rights groups, non-governmental organisations and pro-independence supporters claimed that hundreds, even thousands were killed by pro-Jakarta militia.

So far there has been no evidence of massacres on a large scale.

Corpses on beach

British Gurkhas searching remote areas of East Timor for evidence of human rights abuses have found sites of torture and killings but no bodies or mass graves.

The BBC's David Willis: "Truth is an illusive commodity"
The peacekeeping forces, investigating the disappearance of 150,000 people, suspect many bodies may have been disposed of at sea.

Mutilated corpses have begun washing up on the East Timor coastline.

[ image: Peacekeepers search through piles of clothes]
Peacekeepers search through piles of clothes
Inland, five miles from the border with West Timor, near the town of Maliana, the soldiers have found piles of clothing beside a lake and a police station where it is thought at least 40 people were killed.

Corporal Rob Balmer, of the Military police, found bone fragments at the scene but admitted: "Someone did an almost perfect job of removing all the evidence."

The team of Gurkhas is questioning local people and piecing together rumours and hearsay.

Major Tim Warrington said: "Hearsay will probably turn into the truth that we're looking for".

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