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Rebels Express Thanks for Aid to Indonesians

The rebel, dressed in military fatigues and carrying a cellphone and an old Kalashnikov, had a message for the scores of foreigners who have come here to help after the tsunami: You are welcome, and we will not hurt you. “What GAM wants is for the international community to stay and help and see for themselves what is happening,” the rebel, Mucksalmina, told a reporter on Sunday, using the common acronym for the Free Aceh Movement, the separatist army that has been fighting the Indonesian government for most of the past 30 years. It is rare for foreigners to speak with the rebels – Aceh Province has been closed to outsiders for almost two years – but the political aftermath of the tsunami in Indonesia has given them something to say. In doing so, it has also shifted the political dynamic in this war zone, leading secretive rebels under siege by the Indonesian military to welcome the security that foreign scrutiny can provide, while the government in Jakarta remains wary about any prolonged foreign presence. Full Story

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