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Military offensive

The week's news at a glance.

Banda Aceh, Indonesia

The Indonesian military launched a major offensive to “exterminate” separatist Acehnese rebels after peace talks broke down this week. The negotiations fell apart when the Free Aceh Movement rejected Indonesia’s demands to turn over its weapons and accept autonomy, rather than independence, for the oil-rich region on the island of Sumatra. “They asked us to surrender,” said rebel leader Malik Mahmud, who commands 5,000 poorly armed soldiers. “We will fight for independence.” The government swiftly declared martial law in Aceh, and sent hundreds of warplanes, paratroopers, and marines into the province, where it already had 30,000 troops. “Hunt them down and exterminate them,” Gen. Endriartono Sutarto told the troops. More than 12,000 people have been killed in the civil conflict since 1976.

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