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Four die in Aceh violence

Two villagers have been shot dead in the latest violence...

Two villagers have been shot dead in the latest violence in the Aceh province of Indonesia, and a rebel and a soldier were killed in clashes.
Unidentified gunmen kidnapped the two civilians from Di Blang Pidie village in southern Aceh on Friday, witnesses said.
The two men were found with gunshot wounds early on Saturday by residents of Blangpidie sub-district in East Aceh.

In a separate incident, a police source was quoted by AFP as saying a soldier was killed and another was wounded in a rebel attack in the Kualasimpang area in eastern Aceh.

He said one rebel had also been killed in the skirmish.


The bloodshed came only two days after authorities discovered a mass grave containing the bodies of 48 civilians in western Aceh.

In Jakarta, the state-sponsored National Commission on Human Rights has said it would dispatch a team to Aceh next week to investigate a separate incident, in which 31 civilians were shot on a palm-oil plantation in eastern Aceh.

The government has blamed the rebel Free Aceh Movement (GAM) for the slaughter.

But the rebels deny responsibility and accused the security forces of killing the civilians in retaliation for a guerrilla attack that left several soldiers dead.

GAM is battling for an independent Islamic state in the region.

About 6,000 people have died in the conflict in Aceh, about 1,750km (1,100 miles) northwest of Jakarta, in the past decade. More than 1,000 have been killed since March.

Autonomy offer

In a speech on the eve of independence day last Thursday, President Megawati Sukarnoputru urged the provinces to accept new autonomy packages, which would give them a greater say in their own affairs.

In her first major address since being sworn in last month, Megawati said: "We apologise to our brothers who have long suffered as a result of inappropriate national policies.

"We need to pay more attention to human rights.

"We need a security force which is effective, highly disciplined and under the control of the government."

She urged separatists to abandon their struggle and "help build a new Indonesia".

The situation in Aceh and Irian Jaya was completely different from East Timor, she said, adding that rebels should be aware that they did not have any support from foreign countries.

Although spokesmen for the separatist movements were quick to reject the proposals, Megawati has said she would travel to Aceh in early September to try to find a peaceful solution to the violence.