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Government troops kill seven suspected rebels in Aceh

Associated Press - October 31, 2004

Banda Aceh – Indonesian troops killed seven men they claimed were separatist rebels in the country's oil-and-gas rich Aceh province, the military said Sunday.

Soldiers gunned down four alleged Free Aceh Movement guerrillas near the provincial capital, Banda Aceh. Three others were killed in two gunbattles in Aceh Besar and South Aceh, military spokesman Ari Mulya Asnawi said.

Rebels couldn't be reached for comment. Human rights groups accuse the military of operating death squads in the province, and claim many of the victims killed are civilians.

The Free Aceh Movement has been fighting since 1976 for an independent homeland in the resource-rich province on the northern tip of Sumatra island.

At least 13,000 people have been killed since Jakarta launched a new offensive in May 2003, when internationally brokered peace talks broke down.