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Group: Indonesia Mass Graves Found

August 5, 1998

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Eleven mass graves believed to hold the remains of about 500 people have been discovered in remote Aceh province, a human rights group said Wednesday.

Rufriadi, a lawyer with the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation, said he and other activists were led to the graves during a visit last month to Indonesia’s northernmost province, where a separatist rebellion has been going on since the late 1980s.

Villagers said the remains belong to people killed by Indonesian troops during the eight years the province has been under military rule, Rufriadi said in a telephone interview. He said some villagers said they were forced to dig the graves at gunpoint.

The Indonesian military has long been accused of arbitrary killing and torture in Aceh, a strongly Muslim province about 1,100 miles northwest of Jakarta.

There was no immediate comment from the military on the latest allegations.

Some human rights groups claim thousands of people have been killed. But a parliamentary team that went to the province last week to investigate the allegations denied local media reports that it found evidence of mass graves.

Rufriadi said each burial site could contain as many 50 bodies and that other burial sites might also exist.

``There are at least eight mass graves in villages in North Aceh regency, and one each in Central Aceh, East Aceh and Pidie regencies,″ Rufriadi said.

He said one of the sites was nicknamed ``Skull Hill″ by local people.

Aceh is one of three Indonesian provinces where rebels are fighting for independent states.

Update hourly