[News] No let up in Aceh raids

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Fri Dec 31 11:04:13 EST 2004


No let up in Aceh raids
Friday 31 December 2004 12:19 PM GMT

Separatists say the crackdown violates a unilateral ceasefire

The Indonesian military says it will continue to fight separatists in Aceh 
despite having earlier called a ceasefire to help aid efforts following the 
tsunami disaster.

"Our security operations continue, the only difference is that it may be 
less in scale and intensity," Lieutenant Colonel Nachrowi, of the military 
headquarters' general information department, said on Friday.

"The principle is that all our forces in Aceh are basically continuing 
their duty under the security operation. But they also have to accord a 
large portion of their time for the humanitarian relief efforts.

"We continue to launch raids into suspected GAM (Free Aceh Movement) areas 
and our vigilance remains high."

Nachrowi's comments come despite Indonesian military chief General 
Endriartono Sutarto calling on Monday for an unprecedented temporary 
ceasefire with the separatists to shift focus on rebuilding the remote 

Much of the western coast of Aceh, including the capital of Banda Aceh, was 
demolished in Sunday's massive tsunami that was triggered by a 
9.0-magnitude earthquake in the ocean 150km from the province.

The Indonesian death toll from the tsunami is nearly 80,000 people, with 
most of the fatalities in Aceh, and the government expects the figure to 
head towards 100,000 as rescue workers reach remote towns and villages.

The inability to quickly rebuild infrastructure in Aceh is being partly 
attributed to the decades-old insurgency that has claimed the lives of 
thousands of people and has allegedly led to less development in the province.

The Free Aceh Movement has been fighting for independence since 1976, and 
the government stepped up its military suppression efforts with a massive 
operation that began in May 2003.

Amid the apparent calls for a ceasefire, Indonesian President Susilo 
Bambang Yudhoyono urged GAM separatists on Thursday to lay down their 
weapons and join efforts to rebuild Aceh.

Unilateral ceasefire

The exiled Free Aceh Movement leadership announced on Tuesday that it had 
imposed its own unilateral ceasefire, but said there had been no evidence 
of the army having laid down its arms.

"We declared a unilateral ceasefire, but some of our people have been 
killed in ambushes," GAM spokesman Bakhtir Abdullah said.

Meanwhile, it emerged Friday that five senior GAM leaders jailed last year 
for between 12 and 15 years had survived the floods that killed hundreds of 
their former inmates because they were recently switched to other prisons.

The leaders had begun serving their sentences in Banda Aceh's main prison, 
which became a death trap for prisoners when the torrents of water and mud 
swept through.

But four of the men - Amni bin Ahmad Marzuki, Nashiruddin bin Syahbuddin, 
Muhammad Usman and T Kamaruzzaman - were moved to a jail on Java in August 
as part of authorities' efforts to break communication among GAM prisoners.

The fifth, Sofyan Ibrahim Tiba, was transferred to Java about a month later.

Indonesia to host summit

Meanwhile, Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda has announced that 
his country would host a major summit of global leaders to discuss tsunami 
devastation across Asia.

He said the conference, to be held in Jakarta on 6 January, will gather 23 
heads of state, and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Heads of state from India and Sri Lanka, which have both suffered massive 
casualties and damage, were expected to attend the summit as well as all 10 
members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Representatives from the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Health 
Organization, Asian Development Bank and European Union are also on the 
guest list.

Wirayuda said the meeting, chaired by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang 
Yudhoyono, would "forge a joint commitment to encourage concrete action" 
for rehabilitating and reconstructing areas hit by the disaster.

Aljazeera + Agencies

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