More victims fall in Indonesia's Aceh as troops hunt senior rebel
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AFP) Sep 16, 2003
Seven people including two suspected rebels were killed as the Indonesian armed forces continue their offensive against separatists in Aceh province, the military said Tuesday.

Meanwhile troops were besieging a suspected base of the rebel Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in East Aceh district, Aceh military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Yani Basuki said.

The East Aceh rebel command leader, Ishak Daud, is believed to be in the camp which has been encircled for the past four days, he said.

Daud and his men are suspected of holding captive several local village chiefs, a three-man television crew and two army wives since June.

Basuki said villagers in Rambele, in Central Aceh, on Sunday found the bodies of four civilians who were slaughtered by guerrillas.

GAM has denied targeting civilians.

Another body of a man with a gunshot wound to the head was found by villagers in Manyak Payed, Aceh Tamiang district, on Monday, Basuki said.

The same day, troops shot dead a suspected rebel during a clash that also left a soldier wounded in Seunebok Punti, East Aceh, he said.

Another rebel was shot during a raid by troops in Bakongan, South Aceh, late on Sunday evening, he added.

Troops raiding a suspected GAM hideout in Jeunieb, Bireuen district, captured five suspected rebels there on Monday while another guerrilla was captured during a similar raid the same day in Sakti, Pidie district.

Another Aceh military spokesman, Colonel Ditya Sudarsono said that by Monday, 875 rebels had been killed since the military on May 19 launched an operation aimed at wiping out GAM.

It is the country's biggest military offensive since the 1975 invasion of East Timor.

More than 1,880 rebels had been captured or had surrendered during the same period while the military and the police lost a total of 65 men.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in the violence that has hit Aceh since GAM began to fight for independence for the resource-rich province on Sumatra island in 1976.