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Peace Monitors Leave Indonesia as Aceh War Looms

Hopes of reviving an ailing peace pact in Indonesia’s Aceh province were further dashed on Wednesday as international monitors overseeing the landmark agreement started pulling out of the country. The team of 53 mostly Thai and Filipino monitors left Aceh on Monday for nearby North Sumatra province and Jakarta pending a last-minute effort to bring government and rebels together to avert a threatened Indonesian military offensive. But the Geneva-based Henry Dunant Center (HDC), which brokered the December peace deal and insisted the safety of the team was paramount, said it had now been decided that the monitors should return to their respective countries. “Some will be leaving today and some will leave tomorrow. They will come back if there is some development in the resumption of talks,” David Gorman, who heads the HDC operations in Aceh, told Reuters without elaborating. He said the HDC’s own 13 international staff would remain in Indonesia. In the local capital Banda Aceh — 1,060 miles northwest of Jakarta — truckloads of troops and police patrolled the streets as Acehnese went about their daily business. Markets were crowded but there was no sign of panic buying. Many residents seemed resigned to a resumption of one of Asia’s longest-running separatist conflicts which has killed more than 10,000 people. Full Story

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