Wed, 24 Mar 1999

Abducted servicemen found dead in Aceh

JAKARTA (JP): Marine Maj. Edianto Abbas and Chief Sgt. Syarifuddin, who were abducted last December, were found dead near Lhokseumawe, North Aceh, on Monday.

Kompas daily reported on Tuesday that their bodies, bearing severe wounds, were discovered buried on farmland in Cot Trieng village.

The military has said the Free Aceh movement was responsible for the abduction on Dec. 29.

About 200 personnel from the Liliwangsa Military Command and Lhokseumawe Police precinct were deployed to look for the burial location. They were informed of the killings by a member of the rebel group, Sulaiman, who was arrested in Muara Batu district in North Aceh on Sunday.

Ediyanto's corpse was scheduled to be transported to Surabaya in East Java for burial on Tuesday. Syarifuddin will be buried in the provincial capital Banda Aceh.

Ediyanto, who led the marine task force in Aceh, was scheduled to complete his assignment last month.

Born in Banda Aceh in 1963, Ediyanto graduated from the Navy Academy in 1986 and married Fautia, also a Navy servicewoman, in Surabaya in April 1992.

Chief of the Liliwangsa Military Command Col. Johnny Wahab said Sulaiman, who was armed with an M-16 automatic gun when he was arrested, was long wanted for his alleged involvement in the abductions. The kidnappings prompted military raids on North Aceh villages where rebels were believed to be in hiding. Several civilians died in the fray.

Johnny said Sulaiman was arrested by a joint team on patrol when he stopped his minibus at a gas station on the Lhokseumawe- Banda Aceh highway.

He added that Sulaiman was shot in the leg after he resisted arrest.

Meanwhile, 23 prisoners, including three political detainees, escaped the Lhokseumawe penitentiary on Sunday. Two have since been recaptured.

The daily reported the prisoners sawed through iron bars and managed to flee from six wardens before heading to the city.

Chief warden Ace Herdarmin said the three political prisoners were scheduled to be granted amnesty by the government this month.

"The government will likely delay the release of the three because of the incident." He said it was the third prison break since August.

Ninety-eight prisoners escaped on Aug. 31, 1998, and 23 others on Jan. 22. Most are still at large. (rms)