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Last Updated:  Monday, 3 March, 2003, 13:26 GMT
Peace monitors attacked in Aceh
Flag of separatist rebels in Aceh with GAM troops
Villagers allegedly complained about rebel extorsion
An angry mob in the Indonesian province of Aceh has torched an office housing international monitors overseeing the recently agreed peace deal between separatist rebels and the Jakarta Government.

Two local monitors were slightly injured in the incident, which took place in Takegon, 300 kilometres (185 miles) south of the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, according to the Henry Dunant Centre, which brokered the peace deal.

David Gorman, head of the Henry Dunant Centre, said three Thai members of staff who were in the building at the time of the attack had escaped unhurt.

The protesters have now dispersed, according to witnesses.

"We strongly condemn this type of act. We take any matters that threaten the monitors extremely seriously," said Mr Gorman.

This is said to be the first instance of violence directed at peace monitors since the deal was agreed in December last year.

According to the Indonesian military, the incident happened when a crowd of local villagers gathered to accuse the monitors - from the Joint Security Committee ( JSC) supervising the peace deal - of failing to respond to complaints against Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels.

The villagers were initially said to be protesting against alleged rebel extortion, but re-directed their anger towards the peace monitors, accusing the monitors of not acting on their complaints.

They said the rebels had kidnapped a local coffee farmer, forcing them to pay ransom money, Aceh military chief Major General Djali Yusuf told the Reuters news agency.

"The people reported this to the JSC, but there was no response. Finally they got angry and wanted to chase the JSC out," Mr Yusuf said.





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