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Indonesia bans foreign tourists from Aceh BANDA ACEH - Indonesia has banned foreign tourists from visiting war-torn Aceh while all other foreigners, including journalists, would need permission to visit the westernmost province. The ban comes after Indonesian troops shot dead a German tourist on June 4 when he did not identify himself to a night patrol. The curbs were outlined in a presidential decree, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters Tuesday. The decree took effect Monday.
Indonesia put Aceh under martial law and launched a fresh military offensive against rebels a month ago. Hundreds have died and thousands of people have fled their homes. The decree said "local and foreign NGOs are not allowed to do activities that are against martial law." It did not elaborate, although it said foreign aid had to be coordinated with Jakarta.
Any foreigners currently working in Aceh had to report to military authorities, the decree added. International aid workers have remained in Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra island despite a government order last month to leave due to safety reasons. Foreign reporters had also been told they needed permits to visit Aceh, although until the decree there had been no written regulation.
The military stepped up its campaign Monday against the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), deploying F-16 fighter jets which sent sonic booms across eastern parts of the province as part of "shock therapy" tactics. Aceh military spokesman Col. Ditya Sudarsono said the jets flew over several rebel strongholds including Bireun, 105 miles east of the provincial capital Banda Aceh. "Even if it's not effective, this really is a shock therapy," Sudarsono told the leading El Shinta radio station on Tuesday.
Another spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Achmad Yani Basuki, denied local media reports Tuesday that jet fighters had dropped bombs on rebel positions. The region around Bireun has seen some of the heaviest fighting since the offensive was launched to try to crush GAM. At least 230 people have died in the campaign.



Posted in Aceh conflict @ 18 June 2003 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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