Guerrillas killed in Aceh

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Suhardi bin Sulaiman alias Adi, 38, was shot dead in an hour-long clash between rebels and soldiers in the hill village of Rhu in Bireuen district yesterday, said provincial military spokesman Asep Sapari.

Sapari said Suhardi was top of the wanted list in Bireuen, a rebel stronghold. He said more than 50 soldiers, after days of observation, had raided a base of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and clashed with 30 guerrillas.

The military says it has killed more than 1300 rebels since a major offensive was launched last May to wipe out GAM. About 2000 guerrillas and their sympathisers have been arrested or have surrendered, it says.

GAM has been fighting since 1976 for independence for the province on the northern tip of Sumatra island.