No let-up in Aceh violence

Eight people, including a policeman and five suspected separatist rebels, have been killed in the latest violence to hit the restive Indonesian province of Aceh.

    Soldiers have been trying to stamp out rebels since May

    A member of the police elite paramilitary Brimob unit, was shot dead on Sunday and another seriously injured in a clash with separatists from the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in Sungaimas, west Aceh, according to police officials.

    Some rebels are believed to have been injured in the incident since traces of blood were found when troops searched the area following the clash, said Aceh police spokesman Sayyid Husainy.

    Troops shot dead four suspected GAM rebels in a clash in the Guelumpang Lhoknga area of Aceh Besar district on Sunday, said another police official.

    Earlier, troops raiding a suspected GAM hideout in Seulimum, also in Aceh Besar district, shot dead a rebel.

    Meanwhile, villagers in Kejuruan Muda, east Aceh, found two bodies with signs of torture.

    Their identities remain unknown.

    Stamping out rebels

    The military said 870 rebels have been killed since the government launched a massive anti-rebel operation in May Indonesia sent troops into the region to crush separatists following the breakdown of peace talks between the government and rebels in Japan.

    The army also claims that more than 1800 separatists have been captured or surrendered.

    It says it has lost only 47 soldiers and 15 policemen.

    Aceh police say at least 319 civilians have been killed since May while another 108 people are missing.

    Indonesia had threatened military action for weeks in the run-up to the May attacks, saying GAM rebels had violated a December ceasefire. The separatists accused government troops of being the main offenders.

    More than 10,000 people have been killed in the violence that has hit Aceh since GAM began its campaign for independence for the resource-rich province on Sumatra island in 1976.

    SOURCE: AFP


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