Indonesia president warns of threat from Aceh group

JAKARTA, March 5 Fri Mar 5, 2010 6:41pm IST

JAKARTA, March 5 (Reuters) - Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Friday a "terrorist group" was planning to launch attacks from a training camp in Aceh province, which police have raided.

Authorities were investigating whether the group might be linked to a warning issued by the Singapore navy of possible attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Malacca, National police chief Bambang Hendarso Danuri said separately. [ID:nSGE6230CO]

Police were hunting for about 30 members of the group in a jungle area in Lamkebeu in Aceh province on the northern tip of Sumatra along the Malacca Strait, Danuri said.

The training camp was discovered on Feb. 23 and police have since detained 14 suspects and killed at least one person in various clashes with the insurgents, Danuri said.

A police officer was also killed and his body taken by the group, he said.

"This is a truly a terrorist group which has organised itself well and chosen training grounds in Aceh in the hope that people will not see Aceh as a conflict area anymore," Yudhoyono told reporters before a cabinet meeting.

"They hoped that we will be off-guard and they can prepare everything to launch terrorism acts," the president said.

The staunchly Muslim province of Aceh suffered a separatist conflict for 29 years before a peace deal was struck with Jakarta in 2005.

Yudhoyono did not identify the group, but said former members of the separatist Free Aceh Movement were not involved. He said the group's leader had come from outside Aceh.

In one of the raids, police confiscated commando knives, VCDs about the Bali bombings, books on jihad, and cash. Military uniforms, rifles and 8,000 bullets were also seized.

Police have said the suspects detained included several who had received training in militant camps abroad.

Indonesia has been dealing with terrorist attacks for the past decade from groups such as Jemaah Islamiah, some of whose members trained with the mujahideen in Afghanistan.

A Saudi man and an Indonesian went on trial in Indonesia last month in connection with the suicide bombings on luxury hotels in Jakarta last year that killed seven people.

Tito Karnavian, head of Indonesia's anti-terrorism squad, Detachment 88, told Reuters in a recent interview that the investigations into the hotel bombings pointed to the re-establishment of a connection between al Qaeda and local militants.

Jemaah Islamiah, blamed for a string of attacks including the 2002 Bali suicide bombings that killed 202 people, once had strong links to al Qaeda.

(Reporting by Muklis Ali and Olivia Rondonuwu; Editing by Ed Davies and Bill Tarrant)

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