Aceh fighting spreads to cities

Attackers fired grenades at an office in the Acehnese town of Lhokseumawe, Indonesia's military said on Wednesday, as the war with separatist rebels spread into the cities.

    Indonesian troops cope with
    spread in fighting

    Unidentified attackers launched two grenades late on Tuesday at the North Aceh district administration office, but no one was hurt and damage was slight, said military spokesman Achmad Yani Basuki.

      

    He said 16 paramilitary police personnel were sleeping in the building at the time.

     

    Eight clashes had been reported across the province since Tuesday, with two rebels killed and two captured for the loss of one soldier. A second soldier was injured, Basuki said.

     

    Pregnancy trap

     

    Five women separatist rebels were captured when they came down to a local town from their mountain hideout for a pregnancy check-up, another military officer said.

     

    Troops captured the women after a tip-off from villagers, who saw them having a pregnancy check-up at a local health care centre in the Aceh province, the officer, who was not identified, said.

     

    He added that most of them had had between one and two months' training and had joined the separatist movement between 2000 and 2001.

      

    GAM's women fighters, known as Inong Balee, number about 200, according to a rebel spokesman who said they were made up of women whose husbands, brothers or fathers were killed by troops.

     

    Missing TV crew

     

    Meanwhile, the military was continuing a search for an Indonesian TV crew which has been missing since Sunday when it left East Aceh for Lhokseumawe in North Aceh.

      

    The search for the reporter, cameraman and driver from the private RCTI station was being conducted in East Aceh, the military spokesman said.

     

    Last month, a cameraman Muhammad Jamal with the state TVRI station was found murdered in Aceh after going missing for almost a month.

     

    Troops and police are in the sixth week of an all-out offensive to crush GAM, which has been fighting for independence since 1976.

     

    The military says 309 rebels have been killed as of Tuesday while 682 have surrendered or been captured. The rebel Free Aceh Movement (GAM) said many of those killed were civilians.

     


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