More deaths in Aceh offensive

Eleven people have been killed, including a soldier who shot himself after gunning down two civilians, in the latest violence in Indonesia's Aceh province.

    Military operation has left 1300 rebels dead since last May

    Troops killed two men during clashes with guerrillas of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in Bireuen and South Aceh districts on Sunday, said provincial military spokesman Asep Sapari.

    The previous day, five insurgents were shot in separate clashes in various parts of the province, he added.

    Residents in East Aceh on Sunday found the body of an unidentified man in a river, Sapari said.

    Waspada newspaper, based in neighbouring North Sumatra province, said a soldier ran amok on Sunday in the central market in the town of Takengon in Central Aceh, shooting at random before killing himself.

    It said two civilians were killed and four wounded before Kurniawan, a member of a joint intelligence unit, shot himself in the head. Sapari could not immediately confirm the report.

    The head of Central Aceh military command, Lieutenant Colonel Yakraman Yagus, was quoted as apologising for the incident and saying the soldier had long suffered from bouts of malaria.

    "Perhaps at that time, the disease resurfaced so that he could not control himself," Yagus said according to Waspada.

    Mortar bombardment

    The head of insurgent operations in East Aceh, Ishak Daud, told AFP in Jakarta that troops on Sunday continued a mortar bombardment of various suspected rebel bases. "But all my men are safe," he said.

    Daud also accused the military of roughing up and torturing civilians in the district while pursuing rebels. The army could not immediately comment on the allegations.

    The military says more than 1300 guerrillas have been killed since it launched an operation to crush the independence-seeking GAM last May although there has been no independent verification of its claim.

    It also says more than 2000 others have been arrested or have surrendered.

    Since its formation in 1976, GAM has been campaigning for an independent state in the oil and gas-rich region of over four million people amid regular crackdowns against its fighters by Jakarta.

    The Indonesian military has been accused of human rights abuses in its unsuccessful efforts to stamp out the secessionists who command popular support.

    In 1999, a year following the toppling of Indonesian president General Suharto, over one million Acehnese took to the streets to demand a referendum on independence.



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