Tue, 04 Jan 2000

Little to celebrate in Aceh with three killed in attacks

BANDA ACEH, Aceh (JP): New Year's celebrations passed quickly in the province as an outbreak of violence killed two civilians and a member of the Police Mobile Brigade in the West Aceh district of Sungai Mas on Monday.

First Sgt. Sunarto, 30, was shot dead in an ambush by alleged separatist rebels. His colleague, Pvt. Erwin Tarmizi, survived with gunshot wounds.

Aceh Police spokesman Lt. Col. Sayed Husaini said the attack occurred at about 11 a.m. on a convoy of six trucks carrying a company of Police Mobile Brigade personnel. It was on its way to Meulaboh after delivering supplies to personnel in Sungai Mas district, Sayed said.

Minutes after the assault, the police troops searched the adjacent village. Sayed said M. Yasin, 38, a native of Padang Sikabu village and Zul, 27, a resident of Lhok Siumot village, were killed in an exchange of fire between the police and alleged separatists.

Two Taft jeeps and an FN handgun were seized as evidence, he added.

The killings on Monday brought the death toll to five in the first three days of the new century across the restive province.

According to the National Police data unveiled on Monday, violence in Aceh claimed 293 lives, 202 of them were civilians, throughout last year.

A total of 419 buildings, including schools, and 63 vehicles were either burned down or severely damaged in the same period, mostly linked to resistance movement waged by the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

Police confiscated from Aceh residents 67 rifles, 1,671 bullets, two handmade bombs, 30 machetes, 2,601 kilograms of marijuana leaves, 66,206 marijuana trees and 12,114 separatist rebel flags.

In separate incidents Sunday night in Banda Aceh, police arrested 24 people for allegedly disturbing public order. Some of those arrested claimed they were abused by police during the arrests.

The men were believed to be members of civilian task forces which have conducted illegal arrests, raids and sweeping operations in a campaign to stamp out "immoral acts".

Police raided two main offices of the self-described Acehnese civilian guards Thaliban in the province's capital, arresting seven members and confiscating 11 motorbikes.

The raid took place on Sunday at about 9 p.m. at the Thaliban's headquarters in Simpang Surabaya and a base of the group's Ansharullah special forces in Kampung Keuramat. The buildings are located about two kilometers apart.

The men, identified as Ashar Muzakir, Tengku Taufik, 27, Tengku Silahuddin, 27, Tengku Zamzami, 40, Bang Teh, 29, Radian, 25, and a man of Chinese descent named Mu'allaf were released after questioning at Aceh Police Headquarters on Sunday night.

In another police raid on Sunday morning, 17 members of Pemraka were arrested after they reprimanded women at Cermin Beach for not wearing Islamic headscarves. (50/51/edt/ylt)