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Indonesia Puts Curbs on Relief in Rebel Areas

The Indonesian military on Tuesday ordered restrictions on foreign aid workers, limiting their free operation to the two main cities hit by the tsunami in an effort to assert control over international relief operations here. Outside those cities, Banda Aceh and neighboring Meulaboh, aid workers will need special permission to go into more remote areas where hundreds of thousands of people were uprooted by the disaster, Indonesia’s military commander, Gen. Endriartono Sutarto, said in a news conference here. “For the time being I would like the foreign presence only in Banda Aceh and Meulaboh,” General Endriartono said. “Outside those areas they must be accompanied by the Indonesian military.” The United Nations estimates that about 400,000 people in the province of Aceh were uprooted by the tsunami and says many of those victims are being sheltered in small towns and villages. The new restrictions will enable the military to increase its presence in the countryside, where the rebels are strongest and where civilians fear Indonesian soldiers the most. Full Story

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