Six Killed in Indonesia's Troubled Aceh Province

November 26, 2002 - 0:0
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia -- Six people including four separatist rebels have been shot dead in Indonesia's Aceh Province despite an expected imminent peace deal, the military and residents said Monday.

Troops shot dead four members of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) during a 15-minute firefight at Seuneubok Teungah in west Aceh on Sunday afternoon, said a provincial military spokesman, Major Edi Fernandi.

No soldiers were hurt and two AK-47 rifles were seized from the victims, he told AFP.

About five rebels ambushed a patrol of six soldiers on Sunday and wounded one of them at Bandar Masin, on the outskirts of Lhokseumawe town, he said.

Residents said one civilian was killed by stray bullets and one woman wounded.

The local GAM spokesman, Tengku Jamaica, denied that the ambush was carried out by his men.

"The shooting took place between TNI (Indonesian Armed Forces) members and Brimob (paramilitary police) members," Jamaica said.

Brimob and soldiers have a long history of clashes in several areas of Indonesia, especially since the police were separated from the armed forces in 1999.

Meanwhile gunmen wearing military fatigues killed a village chief near the provincial capital Banda Aceh on Sunday, residents said.

They said five gunmen beached a boat near the chief's hut, shooting him dead and setting fire both to his hut and to others nearby.

The chief's body has not been found.

An estimated 10,000 people have died in the province at the northern tip of Sumatra since the start of GAM's struggle for an independent state in 1976.

Some 1,400 Indonesian troops continued a 25-day siege of dozens of GAM rebels in north Aceh district just weeks before the planned signing of a peace agreement.

International mediators from the Henry Dunant Center announced last Tuesday that GAM and the government are expected to sign an agreement on December 9.

An advance team is already in Aceh preparing for the deployment of foreign cease-fire monitors.