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Five bodies found in restive Aceh

Jakarta Post - October 9, 2001

Ibnu Mat Noor, Banda Aceh – Five dead bodies with gunshot wounds were found in separate locations after a gunfight between security forces and members of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) that lasted all of Sunday, an Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) volunteer worker said on Monday.

Muhammad Subur, a PMI worker based in Banda Aceh, said that the Red Cross workers evacuated three bodies from a ravine below the highway in Gunung Paroe area, some 30 kilometers south of Banda Aceh. "The three male bodies were then taken to Zainoel Abidin Hospital in Banda Aceh," Subur said.

Later in the day, two more bodies with gunshot wounds were found separately, he said. One was found in the village of Lhong, Aceh Besar, 40 kilometers south of Banda Aceh, and the other was found in the village of Babah Dua Kuala, West Aceh, around 250 kilometers south of Banda Aceh.

There have been claims from both the security forces and GAM that the dead casualties were their own members. Neither party has yet claimed responsibility for the killings.

GAM spokesman for East Aceh Ishak Daud said that one of the clashes between the military and GAM members took place in Alue Bu Baroh, East Aceh, some 200 meters away from the GAM station where Aceh provincial legislative councillor Ghazali Usman is being held. "Failing to slip into GAM Headquarters, the [Indonesian] troops shot Zulkifli Daud, 27, who was working at his fish pond," Ishak Daud said. "We had to move our station after the clash."

The other clash on Sunday took place in the village of Paya Abeuk in Kuta Makmur district, North Aceh, around 20 kilometers south of Lhokseumawe. GAM claimed that at least five Indonesian Military (TNI) members were killed in the shootout.

In West Aceh, GAM claimed to have attacked the Police's Mobil Brigade (Brimob) station in Meulaboh, 245 south of Banda Aceh, but local GAM spokesman Tengku Cut Man did not say that any officers were killed. In South Aceh, GAM intercepted Brimob troops who were combing the village of Krueng Cut in the district of Kluet Utara, 500 kilometers south of Banda Aceh.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Firdaus said on Monday that he had yet to receive any reports of GAM attacks. "GAM attacks in the night [Sunday] were very possible, but no TNI members or police officers were killed," Firdaus said.

Acehnese separatists have been fighting for independence since the 1970s.

Violence continues in the restive province despite attempts by the government to accommodate the demands of Acehnese people, who have become increasingly disillusioned with Jakarta following human rights violations committed by security forces in the past.