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Rebels to lay down arms in war-torn Aceh BANDA ACEH - Rebels in Indonesia's Aceh province are set to begin disarming Sunday as part of a Swiss-brokered deal that has already helped produce two relatively peaceful months in the war-torn region. The Free Aceh Movement rebels will begin to lay down arms at designated places which will be periodically monitored by peace observers, while Indonesian troops will move to a defensive position, according to the terms of the deal.
The phase is expected to last five months. "We are ready but we don't want to be fooled by the Indonesians again. We want to make sure that our weapons will not be confiscated,'' said rebel spokesman Tengku Sofyan Dawood. Demilitarization was a key sticking point in the two years of negotiations brokered by the Geneva-based Henri Dunant Center for Humanitarian Dialogue.
If successful, disarmament could foster the trust needed for lasting peace among the warring sides who have fought each other for 26 years in the oil and gas-rich province. The first of eight demilitarized peace zones, Indrapuri, was established Jan. 26. Both sides hope to have similar areas in all 20 districts the in war-wracked province.
The rebels and soldiers are banned from carrying weapons in peace zones and neither side can move additional forces into them. Establishing the zones will allow foreign donors to better target their humanitarian and economic development aid, said Steve Daly, the Center's spokesman.
"We've stopped military operations,'' said military spokesman Lt. Col. Firdaus Komarno. "Our soldiers are in their barracks. We won't pull them out of Aceh. But the most important thing is they are not searching and attacking the rebels anymore.'' The agreement has reduced violence in the region and been deemed a success by foreign observers, although both sides have already reported violations.
The bodies of two bullet-riddled civilians - an employee at a fertilizer company and a village night guardsman - were found in North Aceh on Friday, aid workers said. Rebels claim that 300 special elite Indonesian army forces soldiers landed in Lhokseumawe in North Aceh Friday - a charge the army denies. There has been no independent confirmation of the deployment.
The rebels began fighting in 1976 for an independent state in the predominantly Muslim region, about 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) northwest of Jakarta. About 12,000 people have been killed in the past decade.



Posted in Aceh conflict @ 08 February 2003 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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