Mon, 14 Feb 2000

Police subprecinct chief killed in Aceh

SIGLI, Aceh (JP): A police subprecinct chief was shot dead in Pidie regency here on Sunday by an unidentified man believed to be a member of the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

Pidie Police chief Lt. Col. Endang Emiqail Bagus said the officer, Second Lt. Muhammad Djamil Yahya, who headed the Mutiara Police subprecinct, was killed when shopping at a Beureunuen market.

"The victim was shot with a pistol at short range," Bagus said.

He said Yahya was riding a bicycle and not wearing his uniform when the attack took place at 9:15 a.m. in a crowded area of the market.

Yahya, who reportedly was not carrying his pistol, died instantly with four bullet wounds to the chest and stomach, Endang added.

He said police officers from the mobile brigade unit were quickly deployed to the market but failed to arrest the shooter, who escaped on a motorcycle.

The body of Yahya, a father of three, was sent to his hometown of Montasik, Aceh Besar, about 100 kilometers west of Pidie.

Witnesses said dozens of shops and kiosks in the market were destroyed by fire after the police searched for the killer.

A number of shop owners fled the scene and took refuge at a nearby mosque. "We are afraid that we will be shot by police officers," one of them said.

GAM spokesman Abu Razak denied that the killer was a member of the separatist group. "The report was released only to tarnish our image," Razak said.

Dozens of police and marine personnel have been killed by armed civilians in the restive province recently.

Although calls for a cease-fire between the Indonesian Military and GAM have frequently been urged, the violence continues.

During an overseas trip to Europe, President Abdurrahman Wahid said that self-exiled GAM leader Hasan Tiro approved a truce, but local GAM leaders denied the President's claim.

Separately in Deah Pangwa village, also in Pidie, local residents found a decomposing body of a man on the seashore on Sunday morning. Nobody claimed the body and it was buried later in the day. (50/51/jun)