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Four Civilians Found Slain in Aceh

October 5, 1999

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) _ The bodies of four slain civilians were found Tuesday in Aceh province, where separatist rebels are fighting for independence, authorities said.

Two victims were found along a road in West Aceh district, one in a river in front of a military station in the provincial capital Banda Aceh and one in South Aceh.

Military and police authorities would not say how the civilians died.

Rebels belonging to the Free Aceh Movement have been fighting Indonesia for a separate Islamic state in the region. More than 2,000 people have died in the last decade, and some 150,000 people have been displaced by the violence since May.

The rebels contend that the oil- and gas-rich province, on the northwestern tip of Sumatra island, was forcibly incorporated into Indonesia by Dutch colonizers in the 1890s.

Also Tuesday, about 800 students staged a protest in Banda Aceh, demanding an independence referendum and the trial of soldiers responsible for human rights violations in the predominantly Muslim province.

It was the second consecutive day of protests in Aceh, about 1,100 miles northwest of Jakarta. On Monday, about 800 students staged similar protest in Lhokseumawe, the capital of North Aceh regency.

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