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Indonesia Attacks Aceh Rebel Base

May 19, 2003

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) _ Indonesian attack planes on Monday fired rockets at a rebel base in Aceh province, signaling the start of a military offensive, hours after the breakdown of peace talks.

Three planes fired the rockets at a stronghold of the Free Aceh Movement some 12 miles east of the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, said Maj. Gen. Erwin Sujono.

``The offensive has begun,″ Sujono said in Banda Aceh.

He added that 15 warships had moved into waters close to the northern town of Lhokseumawe, an area that is heavily populated with rebels.

Earlier Monday, the Indonesian military said it was ready to ``ambush and paralyze″ separatist rebels in Aceh as hundreds of troops parachuted into the province in a show of force.

Six C-130 Hercules transport aircraft released 458 soldiers over an airstrip close to Banda Aceh after Indonesia announced a military crackdown and martial law in the province.

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