Nine people killed in Aceh violence: hospital
January 4, 1998


JAKARTA, Jan 4 (AFP) - At least nine people died and scores of others were injured during military raids against separatists in the Indonesia's troubled province of Aceh, hospital staff said Monday.

"Seven people died from bullet wounds Sunday. Two more bodies were taken to the hospital this morning, apparently they were also killed during the (same) incident," Sadli Hanafiah of the Lhokseumawe General Hospital told AFP.

Hanafiah said the nine died in a shoot-out between troops and members of the Free Aceh separatist movement.

The military raided Meusanah Blang Kandang village in North Aceh Sunday and arrested 132 followers of Free Aceh leader Ahmad Kandang who was nowhere to be found.

The military has deployed 780 troops in the province to hunt for the bodies of seven soldiers killed by pro-separatist mobs and two marines captured and held hostage in separate incidents in Aceh last week.

The two marines, one of them an officer, were kidnapped Wednesday in the North Aceh district of Muara Dua.

On Tuesday, seven soldiers were killed after a mob dragged 18 troopers out from public buses passing though the Simpang Ulim district in East Aceh.

Eleven soldiers escaped after producing civilian identity cards and fleeing the scene.

The bodies of three soldiers have already been found in Arakundo river, bearing multiple slash wounds and marks suggesting they were either hanged or trussed up, while a fourth body was found off the coast by fishermen on Sunday.

Regional military commander Major General Ismed Yuzairi said Thursday that separatist leader Kandang, who he believed had "provoked people to do brutal activities in Aceh," was being sought.

"We received reports that more people were killed during the raid but they were taken immediately by their families so we could not keep track on the numbers except those admitted to the hospital," Hanafiah said.

"A total of 39 people were admitted for treatment Sunday. Most of them suffered bullet wounds. Five are still being treated, including a woman who was shot in the stomach and is currently in critical condition," he added.

Local military commander Colonel Johnny Wahab said the separatists used women and children as "shields" while they fired at security forces.

"They fired from behind the crowd," Wahab was quoted by Media Indonesia daily as saying.

Meanwhile, 3,000 villagers ran amok and burned down several buildings in Bayu sub-district including the police station and immigration office, only 10 kilometres (six miles) away from Meusanah Blang Kandang village, shortly after the raids, police said

Reports said several other governmental buildings including the state court building, tax office, statistics office and a logistic warehouse were also set on fire.

A separate incident also took place Sunday in another Aceh town of Pidie where two men were reportedly killed while another seriously injured.

A mob of some 200 people killed a man suspected to be a collaborator who had been an informant to the Indonesian military, the Kompas daily said.

Security forces fired warning shots, when the mob tried to destroy a local bank after it had vandalized a vacant home of an unpopular former governor, but were unsuccessful in deterring the growing mass.

A resident Suyanto, 22, died of a stray bullet, while another resident identified as Said Liza, 25, was seriously injured, the report added.

A resurgence of Free Aceh activity in the late 1980s prompted the military to declare Aceh a special zone, with troops from outside the province deployed to quash the rebel movement.

The special military status was lifted after the fall of former president Suharto this year, after which fact-finding teams sent to Aceh found mass graves containing hundreds of corpses of people allegedly slaughtered by the military.