BANDA ACEH - Former rebels from Indonesia's Aceh province have begun handing in their weapons under the third of four phases of a landmark peace agreement. The military says it will now withdraw thousands more troops this week. The Free Aceh Movement and the government have moved quickly to reduce tensions since signing a pact in Helsinki last August that ended one of Asia's longest running civil wars.
The 30-year conflict killed 15,000 people, mostly civilians. The fourth and final stage of weapons decommissioning and troop withdrawals will take place next month. The Indonesian military's representative to the European-led Aceh Monitoring Mission, Major General Bambang Darmono, who is overseeing the pact, says there is no exchange of fire any more.