Source Pravda.Ru

Indonesian rebels hand over weapons, finishing 29-year separatist fighting

Rebels in Indonesia's Aceh province were preparing Friday to hand over a second batch of weapons as part of a peace deal that has so far halted 29 years of separatist fighting in Aceh, the area hit hardest by the Asian tsunami.

The government and rebels fulfilled their first requirements under the deal last month: the rebels decommissioned a quarter of their 840 weapons, and the Indonesian government withdrew 6,500 troops.

On Friday, EU-led international monitors in northern Aceh's Paloh Gadeng village were preparing to receive the first of 210 more rebel guns due to be handed in over the next couple of days.

The military is then scheduled to pull out about 6,500 more soldiers.

The peace accord calls for all insurgent arms to be handed in and a total of 20,000 soldiers to be withdrawn by year's end. Both process are to be undertaken in tandem.

The agreement _ signed in Finland in August _ has stopped the fighting that has killed about 15,000 people in the oil- and gas-rich province on the northern tip of Sumatra island.

Three past attempts to end the conflict have failed.

Efforts to end the Aceh conflict picked up speed after the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami struck the area, killing 131,000 people in the province and leaving half a million others homeless.

The government and rebels have both said they did not want to add to the suffering or hold up the flow of aid to victims.

T.E.

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