Tue, 31 Oct 2000

Violence in Aceh claims six lives, injures one

BANDA ACEH, Aceh (JP): Violence in troubled Aceh over the past two days has left six people dead and another injured, police and witnesses said on Monday.

East Aceh Police chief Supt. Abdullah Hayati said the bodies of two of the victims were found by residents in separate locations in East Aceh on Sunday, both bearing numerous wounds.

The body of Idi Cut Police officer Pvt. Rahmat Imam Santoso was found in Titi Baro village, Idi Rayeuk district, while an unidentified body was discovered near Kuala Langsa, in the waters of Ujong Perling.

Abdullah said Rahmat's body was dumped near Jl. Raya Banda Aceh-Medan, and was discovered on Sunday morning by Titi Baro villagers.

He said Rahmat had been missing since he was shot by five unidentified attackers at his house in Seuneubok Muku village last Friday.

Separatist rebels have intensified their attacks on off-duty police officers over the past few days.

"We condemn such attacks and both the police and the military are committed to tracking down those responsible for such attacks," he said.

Abdullah said that several hours after the body of Rahmat was discovered, the body of an unidentified man was found in Kuala Langsa, Ujong Perling. The victim was 165 centimeters tall, bald and wearing a pair of jeans.

"Like Rahman, we found severe wounds all over his body. I assume that he was tortured before he was killed," he said.

In Cot Gunduek village, Pidie regency, local residents dug out the body of 17-year-old Mustafa M. Saleh from under the wreckage of a burned house.

The owner of the house, Kamariah, said Mustafa, whose hands and legs were tied with wires, was locked inside the house by security personnel before they set it on fire.

"Mustafa's two friends were then taken to the police station in Sigli," she said.

Pidie Police chief Asst. Supt. Heru Budi Ersanto said on Sunday security personnel had raided a house in Cot Gunduek village on Saturday, which police suspected was being used by members of the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

Heru denied allegations police were responsible for the fire, hinting that the GAM members razed the house in an attempt to kill security personnel who were inside the house.

Another fatality over the past two days was 47-year-old Tgk. Usman Ismail, who was killed during a clash at Simpang Ulim market, East Aceh, on Saturday evening, a witness named Saifuddin -- who was shot in the arm during the violence -- said on Monday.

Separately, locals in North Aceh discovered two unidentified bodies, one in Asam Berik village and another in Pante Kiro village in Matangkuli, North Aceh, on Sunday.

The latest incidents brought the death toll since the humanitarian pause was enacted in Aceh to at least 450 people, mostly civilians, while dozens of others have disappeared and been injured.

In Jakarta, Indonesianist and professor emeritus of political science at the University of Washington, Daniel S. Lev, said on Monday the ongoing conflict in Aceh was the result of a repressive military approach.

"What happens in Aceh, as well as in Irian Jaya, is a political problem that must be handled with political solutions, not guns," Lev said during a break in a discussion on the military held by the National Institute of Sciences. (50/lup/edt)