RealNews

Skirmishes Raise Security Fears in Sumatra

Indonesia’s military has stepped up patrols for separatist rebels in tsunami-stricken northern Sumatra island after isolated skirmishes in recent days raised fears the conflict could hamper the relief effort. Officials from the United States and Australia, which both have unarmed military teams helping the massive aid effort, said on Saturday that they had assessed potential threats and were satisfied that Indonesian forces were providing adequate security. Separatist rebels in the fiercely independent northern Sumatran province of Aceh have been fighting a low-intensity war against Indonesian troops for an independent homeland for more than 20 years. Indonesian forces are accused of brutality in the region and are generally hated. The conflict was abruptly interrupted by the Dec. 26 earthquake off Sumatra and the tsunami it spawned, which killed more than 100,000 people and left five times that number homeless. The Free Aceh Movement, known by the acronym GAM, declared a unilateral cease-fire and the military said it would not target suspected rebels during the emergency. But clashes have broken out in recent days. Full Story

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