Indonesia says Aceh ceasefire will not be extended


JAKARTA, Indonesia, AP

Defense Minister Mahfud M.D. accused rebels of using the cease fire, officially known as a humanitarian pause, to stockpile thousands of weapons and strengthen its forces.

There will be no extensions for the Free Aceh Movement,” he was quoted as saying by The Indonesian Observer daily.

The Free Aceh Movement is a separatist group that has been fighting for 25 years for an independent Islamic state in the province, located on the northern tip of Indonesia’s Sumatra island.

In May, government officials and representatives for the insurgents signed a three-month truce to make way for negotiations on the future of the province, which is home to 4.1 million people. It went into effect on June 2.

The two sides have since met on several occasions in Geneva, Switzerland, but there has been no word of any progress made.

The cease-fire has since been extended for an unspecified period.

Rebels reacted to Mahfud’s statement by threatening a return to full scale war in the region.

“If the humanitarian pause is not extended we will take up arms again to return the sovereignty of the Acehnese people,” Abu Sofyan Daud, a Free Aceh leader in northern Aceh, said Saturday.

While the deal has stemmed the worst of the violence, at least 87 people have been killed since its implementation.

On Thursday and Friday, more fighting left 12 dead, including three policemen.

On Saturday, local people found the decomposed and mutilated bodies of a man and woman in Lamno in the western part of the province.

At least 5,000 people have been killed in the past decade in the oil-and natural resource-rich region.