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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 May, 2003, 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK
Aceh death toll 'tops 100'
Acehnese students walk home after school in Lhok Nga sub-district, Aceh province
Aceh's civilian population is living in fear
Indonesia's military has said more than 100 people have now died as a result of the 11-day conflict with separatist rebels in the province of Aceh.

At least 84 Free Aceh Movement (Gam) rebels, seven soldiers, three policemen and 14 civilians have been killed since Indonesia launched its offensive last Monday, according to Indonesian military figures.

There was no immediate comment from Gam, but the rebels often dispute government casualty figures.

The government said on Wednesday that the military operation was "on track", and was even moving faster than expected.

"Some targets have been achieved in the first 10 days. Of course there's still so much to do," said senior security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Military chief General Endriartono Sutarto said he expected his troops to be able to separate rebels and civilians within two months.

According to the Jakarta Post newspaper, Mr Endriartono said the army had already found and reclaimed many Gam strongholds.

"Our original plan was that within two months we would identify their locations and reclaim them; however we made it in only two weeks," he said.

Further clashes

Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Yani Basuki reported fire-fights across the province on Thursday.

About 40,000 government troops are currently in Aceh, aiming to crush an estimated 5,000 rebel fighters.

Despite the army's greater numbers and firepower, correspondents say they may find it difficult to identify Gam fighters, who can melt easily into the civilian population.

The military offensive - now in its second week - began when talks to save last December's peace deal finally broke down.

The deal was designed to bring an end to 26 years of fighting, in a separatist conflict that has killed more than 12,000 people.

When the crackdown started, the Acehnese people saw the prices of staple foods increase dramatically as food distribution was disrupted and several trucks carrying food supplies were attacked en route to the province.

More than 21,000 people are reported to have fled their homes as a result of the violence, especially in eastern areas which are experiencing heavy gunfights almost every day.

Foreign medical supplies began arriving in the strife-ridden province this week, to help avert a humanitarian crisis.

Three tonnes of emergency supplies from the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) and the World Health Organization were flown in late on Tuesday, according to Reuters news agency.

Siddharth Chatterjee, head of Unicef's emergency section for Indonesia, said that educational supplies would also be sent soon - including books and temporary tented accommodation, after hundreds of schools were burned down in arson attacks last week.




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