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Rebels Accuse Indonesia Army Of Attacking Some Giving Aid

By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, January 5, 2005; Page A12

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Jan. 4 -- Indonesian separatist rebels charged Tuesday that the military had launched at least three attacks on them since the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami, and that at least two rebels had been killed as they attempted to assist people affected by the calamity.

A spokesman for the Free Aceh Movement said the military has continued its attacks on his organization, also known by its Indonesian-language initials, GAM, despite the rebels' unilateral declaration of a cease-fire while aid workers help tsunami survivors.

The military last week killed the two unarmed rebels as they tried to assist relatives, said Tengku Jamaica, a rebel spokesman speaking by cell phone from Aceh province, the scene of the most extensive damage. The group has been waging a separatist battle against the government since 1976, and fighting has been going on since the Dutch colonial wars of the 1870s.

The military says it has ceased fighting the rebels except where they are disrupting relief efforts.

"Since the tsunami, we have been carrying out only humanitarian operations," said Col. Ahmad Yani Basuki, a military operations spokesman in Aceh. "We are certainly not conducting any offensive operations, unless GAM is disturbing the security in Aceh."

Jamaica said the military headquarters in Aceh had responded positively to GAM's declaration of a cease-fire on Dec. 27. But he said there had been several military attacks since then.

Since martial law was imposed in May 2003 and then softened to a civil emergency a year later, more than 2,000 alleged rebels have been killed, according to the military. Until last week the government tightly controlled access to the province, barring entry by foreign aid workers and journalists.

Jamaica said the rebel group's leadership was mostly intact following the tsunami. "The regional leadership are in their respective regions," he said. "The central command is still in command."

The Indonesian military in Aceh lost more than 500 soldiers, officers and family members in the disaster, Basuki said.

Special correspondent Yayu Yuniar contributed to this report.

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