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Security in Aceh intensified ahead of Gus Dur visit JAKARTA - The government said on Wednesday that they were beefing up security in Aceh ahead of President Abdurrahman Wahid's visit to the troubled province on Tuesday. "We are going to clean up places that are going to be visited by the President three days before he arrives," National Police Chief Gen. Surojo Bimantoro told journalists before a Cabinet meeting at Bina Graha presidential office.

He said the police "have prepared enough personnel to secure the President's visit". Bimantoro, however, refused to disclose the number of security personnel deployed. When asked whether he had asked for military backup in Aceh, Bimantoro said: "It is automatic (for the police to ask for military backup)". Bimantoro also said that he had dispatched chief of the elite police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) to Aceh to investigate Abdurrahman's allegations that Brimob members fired shots a few days ago while people were conducting evening prayers during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadhan.

But Bimantoro defended his men. "If we encounter enemies at night of course we have to deal with them immediately. We can't wait until the morning," he said. During the Aceh visit the president is expected to officially inaugurate the implementation of Islamic shariah law in the province and hand over Rp 100 billion of development aid. However, Defense Minister Mahfud M.D. said, that Abdurrahman would not declare the use of Islamic law in Aceh.

"Islamic shariah law is already stipulated in the 1999 law on Aceh, so I think it would be irrelevant for the President to declare it again during his visit," Mahfud said. Separately, the Information Center for Aceh Referendum (SIRA), a non-governmental organization which organized a mass rally for peace in Banda Aceh last month, called on the president to cancel his planned visit to Aceh, saying it will not help to win the Acehnese' hearts.

An executive of SIRA's representative in Jakarta, Munawir Zein, claimed on Tuesday that a recent poll of over 2.7 million Acehnese shows that 91 percent support independence while only one percent support wide-ranging autonomy for the province. Munawir further claimed that SIRA intelligence found indications that there are people planning to shoot Gus Dur while visiting Aceh. "Potential assassins are likely to infiltrate the 2,500 troops assigned to guard the guests. The culprits are political enemies of Gus Dur in Jakarta who want the government to impose a civil or military emergency in Aceh," he added. Meanwhile in Banda Aceh an activist with the Rehabilitation Action for Torture Victims in Aceh (RATA) recounted his escape from murder from an armed group on Dec. 6. Nazaruddin claimed he and his three colleagues -- Ernita, 23, Idris, 27, and Bachtiar, 24, along with a local resident named Rusli -- were driving in their vehicle when they were stopped by a plain-clothed man called Ampon Thayeb. He said they were forced to hand over their valuables and then beaten up before being taken away. "The convoy then stopped near a military post, where Thayeb consulted with several people, clad in military uniforms, before heading to a nearby forest," Nazaruddin claimed. He alleged that the armed men then shot dead Rusli and his three colleagues, near an empty house. Nazaruddin escaped by rolling down the valley as the security officers fired shots at him. Police Special Operation Cinta Meunasah chief Sr. Supt. Kusbini Imbar denied on Wednesday allegations that police officers were responsible for the kidnapping and the killing at Alue Lim village in North Aceh. "We only received the report and then evacuated the four bodies," he said. The officer said the kidnapping was probably perpetrated by rebels of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) as the location is a stronghold of the movement.



Posted in Aceh conflict @ 14 December 2000 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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