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Aceh peace monitors office torched BANDA ACEH - A mob of about 200 people torched an office belonging to international peace monitors in Indonesia's Aceh province on Sunday, officials said. No one was injured in the fire in Langsa in East Aceh. It was the second time demonstrators have burned down an office of the Geneva-based Henri Dunant Center since the deal aimed at ending a 26-year insurgency was signed on Dec. 9 in Geneva.
``The incident shows the peace deal is clearly in trouble,'' said Steve Daly, a spokesman for the center, which is overseeing the deal. ``It appears that there are people who are operating with impunity who wish to undermine the peace,'' he said. Aceh police spokesman Lt. Col. Sayed Husaini said demonstrators had gathered at the office to protest alleged kidnappings by rebels. They accused the observers of ignoring their complaints, he said.
Husaini said police were outnumbered and were unable to prevent the attack on the office, which was empty at the time. ``The villagers were not satisfied and their anger boiled over,'' he said. A rebel spokesman interviewed on el-Shinta radio denied the kidnapping allegations and implied that a military-funded pro-Jakarta militia was behind the attack on the office - a claim denied by Husaini.
``The militias are a fairy tale made up by the rebels,'' he said. Both sides made similar claims after a mob torched another Dunant Center office last month. No one has been arrested over that attack, Husaini said. In recent weeks, the government and rebels have repeatedly accused each other of not abiding by the terms of the peace deal.
Rebel disarmament and military withdrawal - two key parts of the accord - have yet to begin and negotiations between both sides are reportedly bogged down. Despite this, the deal has still succeeded in dramatically stemming the bloodshed in the province 1,200 miles northwest of Jakarta. Insurgents have been fighting since 1976 for an independent state in oil and gas-rich Aceh. About 12,000 people have been killed in the conflict in the past decade.
The Indonesian army has a long history of using proxies - such as militia groups or protesters - to intimidate international organizations or rights groups. Several U.N. workers were injured or killed during the bloodshed that followed the 1999 independence referendum that ended Indonesian rule in East Timor.
In September 2000, a pro-Indonesian mob attacked a U.N. office in the town of Atambua on Indonesian-held West Timor, killing three foreign staffers, including a U.S. aid worker. It was the deadliest attack on civilian U.N. staff in the organization's history.



Posted in Aceh conflict @ 06 April 2003 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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