Indonesia

Indonesia: Rewards for rebel's killers

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Laksamana.Net - Troops who killed Ishak Daud, a senior figure in the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), are to be rewarded with Rp150 million ($16,200) to share between them.

Antara quoted East Aceh Regent Azman Usmanuddin as stating he would honor his long-standing promise to reward anyone who caught Daud "dead or alive".

Azman said the soldiers would receive Rp100 million rupiah from his personal funds and another Rp50 million from Aceh governor Abdullah Puteh.

A spokesman for GAM, Tjut Kafrawi, confirmed Daud's death. He is the highest-ranking GAM official to have died since the military began an all-out offensive in May 2003.

Daud's death was one of 14 over five days from Tuesday (7/9/04), military spokesman Lt Col Asep Sapari reported.

Daud and his wife Nuriah were killed in a firefight Wednesday in the East Aceh village of Babah Krueng. Local residents who saw three of the bodies confirmed that one of them was Daud.

Daud, GAM's chief of staff, and formerly the movement's East Aceh commander, was among senior GAM rebels wanted since his group hijacked a car with a television crew and the wives of two Air Force officers last year.

A television reporter from the abducted crew was shot dead during a skirmish between the rebels and troops.

Daud's group was also responsible for the abduction of more than 130 civilians, most of whom were released in May.

New Papua Ambush Probe

National Police have set up a 25-member team to follow up on the findings of the joint police and US Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into the 2002 ambush and shooting near the Freeport mine in the town of Timika, Papua Police chief Insp. Gen Timbul Silaen announced Friday (10/9/04).

Two US nationals and an Indonesian died and 11 other people were injured when a group of men opened fire on their bus in August 2002.

Silaen will head the team, which will begin work in the next few days. He said the team would pursue the findings of the joint investigation by gathering information on the main suspect, identified as Anthonius Wammang.

After the original investigation, US Attorney General John Ashcroft said a man acting for the separatist Free Papua Movement had carried out the killings, aided by his group.

Ashcroft rejected activists' claims that Indonesia's military was involved in the incident, paving the way for renewed military ties with the US.

The team will examine an FBI report on the 2002 shooting, in which two US teachers and an Indonesian died near the huge US-run Freeport gold mine -- an incident that caused diplomatic friction between Jakarta and Washington.

"We expect to submit our initial report to headquarters in one month," said Silaen.

Push for Aceh Split-off

Hundreds of people from Central Aceh, Gayo Luwes, Bener Meriah, Southeast Aceh and Aceh Singkil regencies demonstrated Monday (6/9/04) at the representative office of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam province in Medan, the provincial capital of North Sumatra.

The protesters demanded the provincial government endorse their call to separate the regencies from Aceh and establish a new province, the Leuser Antara province.

Syafarudin, coordinator of the protest, said the group's demands stemmed from the failure of the Aceh administration to boost the prosperity of the regencies, which were rich in natural resources.

Thousands Flee Volcano

Some 2,000 villagers evacuated their homes as Mount Egon on Flores Island in Sikka regency, showed intensified signs of activity.

The volcano discharged thousands of tons of rocks, sand and hot ash, reaching a height of 5,000 meters above the crater, far higher than a day earlier, according to Sikka Regent Alex Longginus on Friday (10/9/04).

On Thursday officials said it had erupted for the second time in months, belching out rocks, sand, ash and lava and white smoke spewed into the air up to a height of 3,000 meters.

Longginus said the eruptions had affected thousands of hectares of cacao, coffee, and vanilla and clove plantations.

The Sikka regency administration and the local Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Agency have declared an alert status and have ordered people away from the volcano.

"It is possible there will be more eruptions that cause much more damage. Therefore, volcanologists recommend that the mountain be closed off to all people," Longginus said. "The government has provided emergency assistance to the victims, including medicine and food," he said.

Volcano monitors began warning of increased volcanic activity at Mount Egon in January this year and it finally erupted in July, spewing out sand, rock and ash. Vulcanologists said the volcano belched out fumes between 500 and 700 meters high at the time.

Haze Forces Schools to Close

Local government in Jambi ordered thousands of junior and senior high schools to close on Friday (10/9/04), following a similar instruction earlier for elementary schools province-wide, as choking haze continued to blanket the area.

Schools will be closed until September 17, when the haze is expected to have dissipated.

Governor Zulkifly Nurdin called on students to stay indoors, as the haze had started to cause respiratory problems and to make people's eyes smart.

Haze density was recorded at 288 particulates per 10 micron, similar to the density a day earlier and far above the acceptable level of 100 particulates per 10 micron.

The head of Jambi Plantation Office, Supranto Aribowo, said fires had burned some 5,000 hectares of forest and plantation areas in the last two weeks.

Out of the total 5,000 hectares, 130 hectares were oil palm plantations run by private companies and another 520 hectares were plantations run by local residents.

Supranto said his office had managed to put out fires and they did well at some plantations. However, they failed in other plantations as they were inaccessible, hence they were completely razed by fire.

Haze disrupted flights when visibility in the morning reached only 300 meters, forcing carriers to suspend flights to Sultan Thaha Airport.

"The haze came from South Sumatra and Riau provinces where forest fires resulting from land clearing have been widespread," said Firman, the head of Polonia Geophysics and Meteorology Office.

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