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The BBC's Simon Ingram in Jakarta
"The province appears to be sliding ever closer towards all-out confrontation"
 real 28k

Sunday, 18 March, 2001, 07:38 GMT
Violence spirals in troubled Aceh
Indonesian soldiers in Aceh
Indonesian has announced a get-tough policy
At least 14 people have been killed in renewed violence in the troubled north Indonesian province of Aceh, say reports from police, residents and local activists.

Aceh demonstrator
Jakarta is accused of human rights violations
In one incident in east Aceh, unidentified armed men reportedly shot dead three civilians and wounded four others, after herding them from their homes to an isolated spot and opening fire.

The BBC's Simon Ingram in Jakarta says the province appears to be sliding ever-closer towards all-out confrontation between security forces and separatist rebels, little more than a month after the two sides held their last round of peace talks in Geneva.

Correspondents say the latest incidents are not confirmed, but fit the well-established pattern of violence.

The upsurge in reported casualties also suggests that the "limited military operations", announced recently by the Jakarta authorities to clamp down on the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM), are already under way.

President Abdurrahman Wahid
Wahid: Warned he risks a civilian tragedy in Aceh
In one incident, three alleged GAM members were killed in a police raid on their village near the capita, Banda Aceh. The local police chief said they died in an exchange of fire, but the local rebel commander said the dead men were not his members but villagers who had been running away.

In another of the incidents, in south Aceh, security forces hunting for GAM rebels responsible for an earlier attack on a police post allegedly killed four civilians, including a pregnant woman and her two young children.

Parliamentary representatives from Aceh have condemned the authorities' get-tough strategy, which they claim will mean tragedy for civilians in the resource-rich province.

Oil installations

The deteriorating security situation has led to the closure of the valuable gas and oil fields operated by the US firm Exxon Mobil in northern Aceh.

On Saturday the authorities announced that more than 2,000 troops were being sent to protect the installations, which are a major source of foreign exchange for Indonesia's fast-unravelling economy.

Human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Indonesian Government of perpetrating some of its worst human rights abuses in Aceh and in Irian Jaya.

The group says hundreds of GAM members have been captured and tortured before vanishing.

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See also:

30 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Murder and rape in Aceh
14 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Street protests continue in Jakarta
12 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Wahid stands firm amid protests
13 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Indonesia's fragile archipelago
16 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
New Aceh ceasefire agreed
06 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Wahid's many problems
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