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Indonesia launches Aceh offensive

The Indonesian army has launched a massive offensive against separatist rebels in Aceh after President Megawati Sukarnoputri declared the province under martial law. Fighter jets fired rockets at Free Aceh Movement (Gam) rebels based about 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, as scores of troops began parachuting in. “Their job is to destroy the armed forces of Gam through to their roots,” Indonesian military chief Endriartono Sutarto said. It is a dramatic return to violence for a province where frequent clashes between separatists and the Indonesian army over the last 26 years have left at least 10,000 people dead. It also appears to mark the collapse of a landmark peace deal, signed last December, that allowed the rebels limited autonomy and which international observers had hoped would spell an end to the violence. Full Story

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