Thu, 28 Aug 2003

NAD remains volatile as council speaker abducted

The Jakarta Post, Banda Aceh/Lhokseumawe

A chief councillor was abducted in Langsa, East Aceh and several bodies were recovered in Peurelak in the regency on Wednesday, highlighting the unstable situation in the province, which the military recently claimed was gradually returning to "normal".

Budiman Samaun, 54, chairman of the Langsa regency legislative council was reported missing on Wednesday but witnesses said he was abducted by rebels.

Quoting several witnesses, the local police said Budiman was abducted by unidentified men when he was riding a motorcycle on his way from his residence in Matang Seulimeng to Seulalah subdistrict in the Langsa town on Wednesday.

"He was taken away, and so was his motorcycle," said Aceh police spokesman Commissioner Sayed Husaini quoted a witness as saying in Langsa.

Sayed said that the police were still looking for the abductors and investigating the motives behind the abduction.

Separately, the spokesman of the military operation in Aceh Lt. Col. Achmad Yani Basuki said that the abduction was carried out by four people.

He explained that the four people who abducted the chief councillor were demanding a ransom from his family. "This abduction is similar to other abductions in other areas of the province," he said, adding that he believed GAM separatists had abducted several people to seek funds for the organization.

Budiman's abduction has on more in a long list of councillors abducted in Aceh. Many of them were shot dead while many others were released after a ransom was paid. Amirudin, a councillor from Langsa Regency with the United Development Party faction was also nabbed and later found dead.

Yani said that a female corpse was found at 8 a.m in the regency. The victim was known as Dahnir, 31, a resident of Pasir Putih village in Peureulak district. "The victim's body had gunshot wounds in the back of the head and neck," said Yani.

The military claimed the situation in Aceh was under control for the most part after it targeted suspected GAM leaders with three F-16 Falcon and OV-10 Bronco bombers on Monday and Tuesday.

Meanwhile, RCTI television reporter Ersa Siregar who along with his cameraman Ferry Santoro, who was taken hostage last month was reported to be suffering from exhaustion.

Ishak Dawood, a GAM spokesman in East Aceh confirmed that Ersa collapsed on Tuesday night due to exhaustion.

Ishak said that his group was willing to release Ersa for medical treatment, on the condition of a week-long cease fire.