Indonesian Military Launches a Massive Attack on Separatist Movement in Aceh

May 19, 2003
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Indonesian fighter jets bombed the Free Aceh Movement rebels and scores of troops began parachuting into Aceh in what is expected to be Indonesia’s biggest military operation since its invasion of East Timor in 1975.

The Indonesian army has launched a massive attack on separatist rebels in Aceh.

Fighter jets bombed the Free Aceh Movement rebels and scores of troops began parachuting in. Some 25,000 Indonesian troops are in the region and thousands more are moving in. The military says it has moved 15 warships to the region.

The Associated Press is reporting the attack is expected to be Indonesia’s biggest military operation since its invasion of East Timor in 1975.

Last week, peace talks in Tokyo broke down after the rebels rejected Jakarta’s demands to lay down their weapons, drop their bid for independence and accept regional autonomy.

President Megawati Sukarnoputri then signed a decree authorizing war in the oil- and gas-rich province and imposing martial law. The military immediately arrested five senior rebels.

December?s landmark peace deal is now in tatters.

At least 12,000 people have been killed over the last 26 years of violence in the region.

  • Pratap Chatterjee, independent journalist
  • Dita Sari, National Front For Indonesian Workers Struggle