Escaped E.Timor refugee tells of killings in West

BALIBO, East Timor, Oct 3 (Reuters) - An escapee from the refugee camps in West Timor said on Sunday that pro-Indonesian militias were hunting down East Timorese men there and killing them.

In the town of Balibo, near the border with West Timor and a former stronghold of pro-Jakarta militias, troops with the multinational force sealed off a bloodstained house in which they suspected sex crimes had been committed.

``The militia in Atambua are hunting out the male refugees. They want to kill them all,'' Domingos dos Santos told journalists in Balibo where he was being questioned by Australian troops.

Dos Santos fled the camps around Atambua, 10 km (6 miles) from the border with East Timor, on Saturday afternoon.

The United Nations estimates there are some 150,000 East Timorese living in appalling conditions in camps in West Timor.

Many of the refugees were driven out of East Timor at gunpoint after last month's announcement that the overwhelming majority of East Timorese had voted to end almost 24 years of often brutal Indonesian rule.

U.S. Defence Secretary William Cohen said on Sunday it was vital the refugees in West Timor be allowed home.

``We are hoping that this takes place and it is vitally important that it does take place,'' he told reporters in Manila at the end of a five-nation tour. Dos Santos fled his home in Dili after his uncle was killed by militia on September 4, the day that the result of the independence referendum was announced by the United Nations.

He said the militias, who were created and supported by the Indonesian army, were preventing anyone from returning home.

``They told us they want to get everyone out of East Timor and they aren't letting them back in. They are saying there is going to be a war in East Timor and we cannot go back until later.''

He also accused Indonesian troops of blocking the refugees.

``They (the militia and troops) stop the vehicles going back across the border and threaten to kill the people in them. Or if they recognise them, they kill them there on the border.''

He said that he fooled the militia into thinking he was one of them in order to escape.

``I got to the border yesterday and the militia were searching cars so I pretended to search cars too and then slipped across the border.'' >From the town of Balibo, near the border, thousands of cooking fires can be seen glowing in the night.

Dos Santos said the refugees were not getting any assistance.

``Nobody is giving us food or water,'' he said. The United Nations has visited some of the camps, but say that they are not being given free access by the Indonesian authorities.

Places like Balibo are ghost towns, with no remaining population. Many of the corrugated iron rooves have been stripped off the houses.

In one house in the centre of Balibo, a militia stronghold before the vote, there are bloodstains on the walls and floor.

``We are sealing off the area as a crime scene,'' said an Australian officer of the international intervention force which secured the town three days ago. ``We suspect it has been the scene of sexual crimes,'' he said.

In a bedroom littered with school books and the clothes of a young girl, lipstick kisses covered the whitewashed concrete walls and the doors.