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Martial law in Aceh after talks collapse

Jakarta/Tokyo, May 18 (Reuters): Indonesian president put rebellious Aceh province under martial law today and gave the green light for a major military assault against rebels after last-ditch peace talks in Tokyo collapsed.

In a decree read out by an aide, President Megawati Sukarnoputri said the refusal of Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels to accept Indonesian sovereignty over Aceh had endangered the province, requiring the imposition of martial law, effective immediately.

“All parts of Aceh province are declared as being in a dangerous situation with their status now under a military emergency,” Megawati said in the decree, read out at midnight.

The collapse of the talks and a landmark peace agreement signed last December has condemned the province to a war that could be only hours away. The rebels earlier responded defiantly, saying they were ready to resume one of Asia’s longest-running conflicts, adding they would appeal to the UN to intervene.

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