Mon, 27 Aug 2001

Military raid kills four rebels in restive Aceh

BANDA ACEH, Aceh (JP): Just one day after the government vowed to launch a military operation to quell the separatist movement in the restive province of Aceh, the military (TNI) raided on Sunday morning what was believed to be a Free Aceh Movement (GAM) headquarters, killing four alleged GAM members.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Firdaus said hours later that the TNI soldiers also seized two M-16s, one AK-47 and a GLM launcher during the raid.

He said that the identification of the four bodies had not yet been completed.

Meanwhile, GAM could not be contacted for confirmation as to whether or not the victims were its men.

Separatists groups have been fighting for an independent since the 1970s mostly for economic reasons. Military operations launched by the New Order regime have worsened the situation.

The separatists group has two streams; moderate and hardliners.

This year alone more than 1,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in clashes between TNI/Indonesian police with the hardliners.

On Saturday, Coordinating Minister for Political And Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that a military operation would soon be launched in Aceh.

Earlier on Friday, Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) chief Lt. Gen. Ryamizad Ryacudu said that GAM must be eliminated.

Susilo and Ryamizad's statements follow the killing of the commander of the Indrapuri Subdistrict Military Command, Warrant Officer Budiman Ali, by GAM members in a remote area in the regency of Aceh Besar on Thursday.

One of Budiman's men, Sgt. Sarifuddin, is still missing following the attack.

A grenade blast also took place on Thursday at a development expo in Blang Padang square, Banda Aceh, injuring a street vendor.

GAM has claimed responsibility for the two violent incidents.

Both the Indonesian government and GAM say they are open to dialog, but they continue to blame each other every time violence breaks out in Aceh.


Minutes after midnight on Saturday, a grenade exploded at the Tumpok Teungah public health center in Lhokseumawe, one of GAM's strongholds, injuring two people, both health center guards.

They were now being treated at the Lilawangsa Military Hospital, locals said.

About three hours after the Matang Sijuek raid, another grenade thrown by unidentified people on a motorcycle exploded on Jl. Mohammad Jam, beside the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in downtown Banda Aceh, injuring four passersby.

Deputy military spokesman Comr. Sudarsono confirmed the blast had taken place, but said that detailed reports on the incident had yet to be compiled.

There have been four daylight explosions over the last five days. The other two blasts took place in Blang Padang square and at the Peuniti bridge in front of the Military District Command in Banda Aceh.

Meanwhile, the six GAM negotiators who have been in police detention since July on charges of treason and falsifying passports have yet to be freed.

Susilo had earlier said that their release would be very possible pending police confirmation of whether they were involved in crimes or not. (edt/50/sur)