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The mainly-Muslim province of Aceh enjoyed a long history as an independent Sultanate, before becoming part of the Dutch East Indies and then the Republic of Indonesia.

During the Suharto years, resentment against rule from Jakarta was fuelled by the use of the army to keep order.

The separatist Free Aceh Movement (Gam) was formed in 1976 and has led calls for Aceh to break away from Indonesia.

Hopes for peace were raised when the two sides signed an agreement on 9 December 2002 which offered autonomy and free elections in 2004 in exchange for the rebels disarming. But the deal collapsed in May when both sides failed to fulfil their side of the bargain.

The rebels refused to give up their weapons, and the Indonesian military failed to withdraw to defensive positions.

Indonesia has declared martial law and launched an all-out military offensive. Gam has vowed to continue its fight for full independence.

At least 10,000 people, mainly civilians, have been killed in the decades-long conflict.

Persistent abuses of civilians by troops and police have alienated much of the local population.

The discovery of large reserves of oil and gas in Aceh has increased dissent because the Indonesian Government has taken most of the proceeds.

In the failed autonomy package, the future provincial government would have been allowed to keep 70% of oil and gas profits.

Sharia law was introduced in Aceh in 2002, a move the government hoped would appease the staunchly Muslim population.

Terms of the 2002 peace deal:
Immediate ceasefire
Free elections in 2004 to establish an autonomous government, but no independence
New provincial government allowed to keep 70% of fuel revenues
Rebels must disarm in designated areas
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