MEULABOH: Two Germans became the first foreign victims of Indonesian military's push to crush the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).
They are 54-year-old Luther Hendrick Albert, who was shot dead, and his colleague, identified as Elizabeth Margareth, 49.
She has been admitted to the hospital here with gunshot wounds and her condition is not known.
The shooting happened at about 9pm on Wednesday near this sleepy town facing the Indian Ocean, about 270km from Aceh’s capital Banda Aceh.
Indonesian military operation commander Brig-Gen Bambang Darmono told the media in the command centre in Banda Aceh yesterday that the soldiers had mistaken the Germans for GAM guerrillas.
Darmono said initially a villager named Zakaria had reported to soldiers of Battalion Infantry 521 that he saw some people with torchlights behind his house.
“He was suspicious and decided to report to a group of soldiers located in an army post about one kilometre from his house,” said Darmon, adding that the report prompted the soldiers to go to Zakaria’s compound.
“It was dark and the soldiers shouted, ‘Siapa? (Who is it?)” but got no answer,” said Darmono. “Some shots were fired into the air and later into darkness where the lights were.”
After the shooting the soldiers inspected Zakaria’s compound and found Albert and Margareth.
It is not clear yet what the Germans were doing in the war zone under martial law where about 40,000 troops were hunting for about 5,000 GAM fighters.
Close to where the Germans were shot was the backpacker’s paradise of Calang where the beaches along the Indian Ocean are superb. A bungalow-style accommodation called Camp Europa is believed to be run by a German.
The German embassy in Jakarta also declined to comment on the shooting just yet and Indonesian security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono promised yesterday to investigate the killing.
The Indonesian military said a total of 71 people have been killed since the offensive began on May 19 but it has given no breakdown on how many are soldiers, GAM fighters and civilians.
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