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Political violence in Aceh

Jakarta Post - February 18, 2014

Yuliasri Perdani, Jakarta – The recent shooting of a National Democrat (NasDem) Party campaign post in Aceh was politically motivated, party members said.

Early Sunday, two masked men wielding a rifle shot at a campaign post installed by Zubir HT, a NasDem legislative candidate, in North Aceh regency. After firing at least eight bullets, the perpetrators assaulted two of Zubir's supporters, identified as Saiful Junaidi and Adnan Syahril.

In a press conference Monday, party chairman Patrice Rio Capella suggested that the attack was aimed at intimidating NasDem members and supporters in Aceh.

"It is clear that NasDem in Aceh as a party is gaining ground. Also, [NasDem chairman] Surya Paloh is from Aceh. There is a strong connection between the party and the area," he said at the party's headquarters in Central Jakarta, as quoted by Antara news agency on Monday.

Surya declined to speculate about the motive and called for a peaceful election in the once restive province. "Nasdem emphasizes the importance of maintaining harmony with other political parties," said Surya, who is a well known media mogul.

Three local parties – Aceh Party (PA), the Aceh National Party (PNA) and the Aceh Peace Party (PDA) – will compete for legislative seats at the provincial council in the April 9 election. PA and PNA, two parties founded by former Free Aceh Movement (GAM) members, have engaged in violence in the run-up to the legislative election.

In the last six months, there have been at least three incidents involving PA and PNA members. In January PA supporters stormed and assaulted Ramli, a PNA supporter, after defacing PA flags. Also in January, a PNA member, Jufrizal, was abducted and beaten for flying PNA flags around his neighborhood in Lhokseumawe.

With rampant arms trafficking remaining a problem, the National Police listed Aceh as one of the most conflict-prone areas during the general election, along with Papua.

Separately, National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Agus Rianto said on Monday that the Aceh Police were examining bullet casings retrieved from the crime scene.

"We found seven bullet cases. We do not know what type of rifle was used yet. So far, five witnesses have been questioned; two of them victims of assault," he said at National Police headquarters in South Jakarta.