Indonesia: December 21, 1999


Australia has determined that keeping troops on East Timor will put its Army under too much strain. Consequently, another 1,500 active duty troops will be added in order to bring the 6th Motorized Battalion and the 4th Commando Battalion to full strength. This will provide enough troops to ensure that there are always troops available beyond those on Timor or preparing to go there. --Stephen V Cole

December 21; With some 70 security officers killed in Aceh this year, the police have decided to go on the offensive against separatist rebels. The government had ordered the police and army to use restraint over the last few months. But this has simply lead to an increase of rebel attacks.

December 20; The Indonesian military praised President Wahid for his tough stance against separatists in Aceh province, and said it was prepared to send troops back to the region. (Wahid had only recently ordered the Army out of the province, noting that its presence had inflamed the situation.) An Army spokesman said that separatism is unconstitutional and the military has the right to defend the constitution "by any means necessary". Military chief Admiral Widodo said that the military was prepared for "the worst thing that may happen". Wahid has said that he will not tolerate independence for the oil-rich Aceh region, a province on the northern tip of Sumatra, but might allow a vote on whether the provincial government could enforce some elements of the Moslem sharia legal code. --Stephen V Cole

December 20; In the past week, ten security officials have been killed in Aceh province, and several more wounded by separatists. Fewer civilians have been killed and wounded, but angry troops and police have burned down houses and beat civilians in retaliation.

December 19; In West Timor, the East Timorese anti-independence militias are fading. Although many retain their weapons, after having been ordered to disband by their leaders and the Indonesian army, the militiamen have lost their direction. Still a threat, they are increasingly action less like one. In Aceh, a fire bomb was thrown at an army barracks, but did little damage. In the Malukus, two were killed and seven injured in continued Christian/Moslem violence.




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