Sat, 16 Sep 2000

Aceh violence costs hundreds of lives

BANDA ACEH, Aceh (JP): Violence in restive Aceh province in the last year cost over Rp 42,8 billion (US$5.1 million) in material losses, the province's governor Ramli Ridwan said on Friday.

Citing official 1999/2000 data, Ramli also said that 444 people, including civilians, police and military officers, were killed.

Another 335 people were injured, while 96 remain missing.

At least 359 houses, 146 schools and 135 offices were razed.

The inventory of damage and deaths was included in the governor's accountability speech to the plenerary session of the provincial council.

Ramli said that the situation in Aceh was still of concern because killings, kidnappings and intimidation were continuing while law enforcement agencies were not performing well.

"Those who violate the law throughout the territory seem untouchable by the law enforcement apparatus," he said.

"Such conditions are aggravated by the fact that law enforcement officers cannot protect themselves optimally," he added.


Meanwhile, Aceh Besar Police chief Supt. Sayed Hoesainy pledged on Friday to step up security patrols to curb attacks on government and police installations by separatist guerrillas.

He was speaking after revealing that the two-story City Public Works office on Jl. Pemancar, in Setui village, was hit by an arson attack in the early hours of Friday.

"We will not let the campaign of terror continue. We will intensify our patrols," he said. No fatalities were reported, but he said that material losses could amount to hundreds of millions of rupiah.

Sayed said two security officers were tied up by six rebels while they set the main room and the second story of the building alight.

The incident is the latest in a series of attacks on provincial administration offices.

On Thursday, a bomb rocked the building housing the Environmental Impact Management Agency and the National Land Agency. A bomb also exploded in the City Council compound on Tuesday.

In a separate development, secretary of the provincial development board Nasiruddin Usda was murdered late Thursday night by three unidentified men in front of his house in Langsa, East Aceh.

Nasirudin ran a video game entertainment center, was deputy chief of the local Pancasila Youth movement and also running for Langsa mayor.

Police are still investigating the killing. They have yet to determine whether it was politically motivated or due to business rivalries.

Meanwhile North Aceh Police chief Supt. Abadan Bangko said two armed rebels riding a motorcycle attacked Kutamakmur Police station, killing an on-duty officer.

The attackers fired several rounds at the station as they whizzed by on the bike.

Abadan also said that a police patrol in Sawang district shot dead on Thursday three armed rebels who it believed were planting bombs in the streets of Lhok Meurbo village.

However, North Aceh separatist commander Abu Sofyan claimed that the three dead men were not rebels. But he conceded that they were shot because they were suspected to be planting a bomb. (lup/50)