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Indonesia claims 15 rebel deaths in Aceh JAKARTA - Indonesia's military said Thursday it killed 15 insurgents in new fighting in Aceh province, and the rebels said they have detained two local journalists. The guerrillas disputed a claim by the military that it controls all of Aceh six weeks into its latest anti-insurgency offensive. The separatists threatened new attacks in coming days. The media pair, a cameraman and reporter for Indonesia's RCTI station along with their driver, were detained on Sunday in the east of the province.
``We suspect that their reports have been used by the military to attack us,'' rebel spokesman Tengku Mansur told The Associated Press. ``They will be released after their interrogation.'' Despite the military restricting access to much of Aceh for foreign reporters, there are still dozens of Indonesian journalists in the region. They are covering the military's most recent offensive against the rebels that began May 19.
Last month, a technician for state television company TVRI was kidnapped and killed by unidentified assailants. On Wednesday, the military claimed it controlled ``100 percent'' of Aceh. The rebels denied this. ``The military may control the cities, but the countryside is ours,'' said another rebel spokesman, Tengku Jamaica. ``Our numbers have not decreased. Our position is strong.''
In the latest violence, troops killed 15 rebels in gunbattles across Aceh on Wednesday, said military spokesman Lt. Col. Ahmad Yani Basuki. One soldier was also killed early Thursday in a clash. The rebels declined to comment on the claim. About 350 people have been killed and around 600 suspected rebels have surrendered since May 19.
The international community has largely supported Indonesia's right to use force against the rebels, but has also warned that military might alone can't resolve the Aceh conflict and urged Jakarta to limit civilian casualties. At least 12,000 people have been killed in Aceh since 1976. Both the government and rebels have been accused of atrocities.



Posted in Aceh conflict @ 03 July 2003 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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