Sun, 01 Oct 2000

Two more govt offices attacked in Banda Aceh

BANDA ACEH, Aceh (JP): Armed separatist rebels launched two separate bomb and arson attacks on two government offices in the past two days, a senior police officer said on Saturday.

The attacks on the provincial Ministry of Justice and Human Rights on Saturday morning and the Banda Aceh Agency of Industry office the previous day has brought the number of state facilities damaged by unknown agitators to at least 10 within three weeks. Most attacks were located in the Aceh provincial capital of Banda Aceh.

Aceh Besar Police chief Supt. Sayed Hoesainy refused to identify the rebels or their supporters, but said the attackers were members of the armed separatist rebel group, which usually refers to the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

"We think the attacks at the two government facilities were planned by the same group," Sayed said, adding that the industrial agency office was located next to the residence of Banda Aceh Mayor Zulkarnaen.

Judging from the way the attacks were carried out -- by first pouring gasoline on the site before detonating homemade bombs -- the police said the two latest incidents were related to the recent attacks on several other government facilities.

Hoesainy said the police were still in the dark on the motive was for the attacks.

He said the group might only be aiming to disturb the peace and security in Banda Aceh.

At both buildings, the police found some 10 meters of wire, which they suspect was used to detonate the bombs from a distance.

Hoesainy said his office had decided to step up security measures, especially during evening hours, as arson attacks by armed rebels were still a threat.

"We want to make sure that public security in the area is under control," he said.

The other buildings recently attacked by the unknown assailants are the Provincial City Council, the Environmental Impact Management Agency, the National Land Agency, the offices of Religious Affairs in Syiah Kala, the National Family Planning Coordinating Board, the City Public Works Agency, the Pidie Regent's office and the official residence of the Aceh Besar regent.

The police, who said they did not have enough evidence, accused armed separatist rebels as those responsible for the attacks. The police have not arrested any suspects.

A police sweep conducted on Saturday afternoon in the areas of Limpo village in Aceh Besar, where some GAM members were suspected to be, ended in a clash, with one resident injured by gunshot, Hoesainy said.

At least 12 other locals were being held for questioning.

Aceh Regional Police chief Doddy Sumantyawan previously pledged on Friday to continue patrolling and monitoring security in the province to hamper the activities of armed rebels.

Separately, in Idi district, East Aceh, two locals at a drinking stall were seriously wounded on Saturday after they were shot by two unidentified men on a motorcycle.

Local residents said one of the victims was known in the neighborhood for his close relationship with the military in the past during the implementation of the military operation areas (DOM) in the province.

The nine-year-long military operation areas, launched in 1989, enabled a militaristic approach to curb the activities of the security disturbance group (GPK) in Aceh.

The National Commission on Human Rights said 39,000 Acehnese were killed and 1,000 were still in military detention. Military data shows 760 deaths, comprising 111 soldiers, with 243 civilians killed by armed rebels and 406 armed rebels killed by the military during the DOM era.

Locals in Idi district believe the assailants in the incident on Saturday were suspected of eradicating witnesses of the human rights violations in Aceh.

East Aceh Police chief Supt.Abdullah Hayati confirmed the shooting but gave no further details.

In another related development, North Aceh Police chief Supt. Abadan Bangko said on Saturday that two GAM members were killed when they attempted to attack patrolling police in Geulanggang Teungoh village in Bireuen regency a day earlier.

"Six armed rebels intercepted the police with sporadic gunfire. Four managed to escape shortly afterward," he said.

The police's version was in contradiction to local residents, who said there was no gunfight and the two were shot after they refused to obey a police order to stop their motorcycle.

GAM spokesperson Abu Sofyan Daud said the two men shot dead by the police were not the movement's members. He insisted that there was no gunfight in Geulanggang village on that day. (50/lup)