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Saturday, 7 July, 2001, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Bodies discovered in Aceh
Indonesian soldiers
Suspicion has fallen on demoralised Indonesian troops
By Jonathan Head in Bangkok

Humanitarian workers in the Indonesian province of Aceh say they have discovered about 30 bodies outside a village west of the city of Lhokseumawe.

They say some of the bodies bore gunshot wounds, but it is not clear who killed them.


However, Indonesian security forces have been conducting intensive sweeps through the area, which is a stronghold of rebels from the Free Aceh Movement.

The number of people killed in the civil war in Aceh this year has now risen to about 1,000, and every week brings more gruesome discoveries.

The latest discovery, in the village of Krueng Tuan, follows a pattern of increasing civilian casualties in a conflict growing ever more bitter and violent.

Atrocities

Suspicion for the latest killings will inevitably fall on the undisciplined and demoralised Indonesian troops, who have already committed numerous atrocities in Aceh.

Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid
President Wahid: Under fire over Aceh policy
Talks in Geneva between the Indonesian Government and the rebel Free Aceh Movement ended last week with little progress made.

The government has now pulled out of a joint committee, which was set up to try to curb the violence.

It wants security guarantees from the Free Aceh Movement to allow it to re-open a vital gas field.

In a disturbing echo of events in East Timor in 1999, the military is now employing local militias to help in its sweeping operations through suspected rebel areas.

Unable to distinguish the insurgents from ordinary civilians, the soldiers are frequently accused of abuses and killings.

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See also:

18 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesian students clash over fuel rise
15 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Soaring prices hit Indonesia's poor
15 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
MPs seek early Wahid impeachment
21 May 01 | Business
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30 May 01 | Business
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