Indonesia has temporarily closed its border with East Timor to prevent fugitives sneaking into Indonesian territory ahead of a tense lead-up to presidential elections, the military said on Monday.
Australia, which has 800 troops in East Timor, has warned of increased violence ahead of the April poll after clashes between its peacekeepers and East Timorese refugees left two civilians dead last week.
"We have closed the border to prevent infiltration from the other side. We are cooperating with East Timor security personnel," Indonesian military spokesman Muhammad Soenarto said.
He did not say if the border closing had been requested by East Timor's government. East Timor occupies half of Timor island and a rugged land border separates the tiny country with Indonesia's West Timor province.
But the Jakarta Post newspaper reported East Timor Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta had called President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to ask for Indonesia's help in capturing rebels led by army renegade Alfredo Reinado should they try to enter Indonesian territory.
Reinado, who led a revolt that plunged East Timor into chaos last May, escaped from jail in East Timor's capital Dili in August along with 50 other inmates.
Reinado has made several public appearances since the escape, including a meeting with the country's military chief. Security forces did not made any attempt to arrest the fugitive.
East Timor voted in a 1999 referendum for independence from Indonesia, which annexed it after Portugal ended its colonial rule in 1975. The country became fully independent in 2002 after a period of UN administration.