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Indonesian forces kill 7 Aceh separatists JAKARTA - Indonesian forces killed seven separatists of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) Tuesday, July 1, in several gunfights, as the country’s human rights investigators were verifying reports of new mass graves in the turbulent region. Government troops also arrested 13 separatists and seized 15 time bombs and seven grenades, spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Yani Basuki said, arguing there were no air strikes against GAM posts on Tuesday.
However, GAM chief spokesman, Sofyan Daud, said the air assault, launched the government Sunday, June 29, was continuing on Tuesday. "There are victims among the residents," he said, but was unable to provide a figure. Military helicopters have since Sunday fired rockets at several separatist-held areas at Nisam in North Aceh, Basuki told AFP.
He did not say how many civilians were forced to abandon their homes for refugee camps due to the fighting, but the Jakarta Post said about 10,000 people from three villages had been driven out. A provincial welfare official quoted by Antara news agency also said the number of refugees had risen by about 10,000 to top 48,000. The military on May 19 launched an all-out assault to crush GAM separatists, who have been fighting for independence since 1976.

Fresh Blasts

Daud denied separatists had planted two homemade bombs that exploded in the capital Banda Aceh on Monday, June 30, injuring three people. The first blast occurred at the Aceh Shopping Center, damaging several kiosks but causing no injuries. The second blast at the nearby Kampung Baru market some 30 minutes later injured three traders, said Banda Aceh city police chief Alfons Tololuhula.
"They were home-made, low explosive, bombs," he said, accusing separatists of planting the bombs the previous evening "as a form of terror to scare the population". A police bomb squad also found a home-made explosive in the emergency unit of the state Zainal Abidin Hospital, witnesses said. The discovery caused panic among patients before the bomb was taken away and defused.

Mass Graves

In another development, witnesses have told Indonesian national human rights investigators about three separate mass graves in Aceh, an investigator said Tuesday. "We have several reports from eyewitnesses who said they saw several graves that aren't normal," M.M. Billah said. He had led a team from the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to the province to follow up a report from its field representatives.
About seven or eight bodies are located in a former reservoir, Billah said, citing eyewitness reports. "They saw for themselves there are bodies there," he asserted.At another location about eight corpses are believed to be inside a well, Billah said. The Indonesian military was quoted on three separate occasions last week as saying soldiers were examining three other mass graves in Central, West and South Aceh.
They blamed GAM for the killings, a charge the separatists repudiated. The report came one day after three Indonesian soldiers arrested for raping four women in war-torn Aceh province have confessed to the crimes. The military, which has a record of gross rights abuses during earlier campaigns in Aceh, has said it will try to ensure its troops behave better this time. More than 170 civilians have become casualties in the first month of Indonesia's military offensive against separatists in Aceh province, a human rights group report said on June 21.
Six soldiers have been jailed for between four and five months for beating up civilians during a hunt for separatists. In a recent report, the London-based Amnesty International highlighted reports that "civilians, including children, have been subjected to extrajudicial execution, and that many thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes," in Aceh.
"Amnesty International reminds the government of Indonesia that the declaration of a military emergency does not allow derogation of basic human rights," said the report. However, martial law authorities have restricted travel in the province by foreign media and overseas non-government organizations, making independent monitoring of rights abuses difficult. The military says at least 270 separatists have been killed since the start of the offensive for the loss of about 30 police or troops.

Posted in Aceh conflict @ 01 July 2003 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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