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Indonesia promises to stop attacks on Aceh rebels as tsunami toll rises

Indonesia said it would stop attacks on separatist rebels in devastated Aceh province, where the tsunami death toll has risen to almost 174,000, as both sides prepared for possible peace talks. Military chief General Endriartono Sutarto said his men had stopped raids on Free Aceh Movement guerrilla camps as diplomats tried to halt the long-running conflict that has threatened to disrupt efforts to help survivors. Sutarto also said the army had killed a total of 208 separatists since the rebels declared a unilateral ceasefire on the day of the December 26 disaster, a claim which will do little to tone down the military’s aggressive image. Exiled rebel leaders expressed pessimism at the likelihood of peace talks, saying there had been no contact yet from Jakarta. Indonesian officials have indicated that dialogue which collapsed in 2003 could resume by the end of the month. Full Story

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