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Food crisis looms in troubled Aceh region BANDA ACEH - Soldiers guarded trucks carrying fuel and other staples into Indonesia's Aceh province Saturday as the military warned that food was running out in parts of the region. Prices have doubled in some areas because of the dangers of traveling since Jakarta launched an offensive Monday to crush a 27-year-old separatist rebellion. On Thursday, UNICEF warned of a "grave humanitarian crisis" in the province. It said basic health services and programs for assisting poor families and their children had collapsed.
Troops were deployed Saturday on the main roads in and out of the province, said Lieutenant-Colonel Firdaus Komarno, a military spokesman. Soldiers also were escorting trucks carrying rice and gasoline. Troops and rebels have clashed daily since the campaign started. The military says 58 guerillas have been killed. Rebels say 12 of their fighters and 53 civilians have been killed. Independent verification was impossible because international monitors left the area and both sides have routinely misrepresented casualty figures.
Indonesian Red Cross director Mari'e Muhammad said volunteers collected between 70 and 80 corpses since the military's campaign started Monday. He added he was unable to say whether those were the bodies of civilians or combatants. Several clashes were reported Saturday, and the military said four rebels including a local rebel leader were killed. Military investigators are now pursuing reports that "a number" of civilians were killed in a Wednesday clash in Bireun.
The offensive was launched in the oil- and gas-rich province, located on the northern tip of Sumatra, Indonesia's largest island, after talks in Tokyo to salvage a Dec. 9 cease-fire failed and the rebels refused to give up their independence bid.



Posted in Aceh conflict @ 25 May 2003 00:03 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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