Sat, 26 Apr 2003

Three more Medan suspects arrested

Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan, North Sumatra

The police in Medan, North Sumatra, arrested three more members of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), who were allegedly responsible for the two recent bombing incidents in the city.

The three suspects -- identified as Nasrul, alias Ayah Kumis, Marsudi and Ilham, alias Iwan Tentara -- conceded that they had planned the blasts along with five others arrested earlier this week, said a police officer.

North Sumatra Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Amrin Karim said here on Friday that the three suspects were captured at their home in the Simpang Kantor area of the city early Friday.

"We have also seized two handmade bombs from Nasrul, who is deputy chief of GAM's territories in the areas of Deli and Medan. The three were behind the April 1 bombings of a gas pipeline network belonging to state-owned (gas and oil company) Pertamina, located near the Deli seaport," he said.

Karim added that Ayah Kumis confessed that he still had three bombs, which were to be detonated in public places.

The five arrested earlier this week are: Abdul Wahab, Rakum Sudjono, Tengku Abid Johan, Ridwan Yusuf and Said Tengku Azhar. They confessed that they had been behind the blast at the Medan mayor's office on March 31, when three cars were damaged.

The suspects have also admitted that the bombing was aimed at creating instability in the city.

Amrin said the police were hunting down four other suspects, who were still at large and thought to be in the city.

"The police have also intensified its operation to hunt down GAM members in the city, as it is expected that many GAM members and their supporters will move here, fearing the government's plan to launch a military operation to crush the separatist movement," he said.

He said the police had also increased their efforts to minimize the smuggling of marijuana from Aceh to Sumatra and Java, by checking all public transportation vehicles to and from Aceh.