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Indonesia Announces 'Gentlemen's Agreement' With Aceh Rebels - 2005-01-11


Indonesia says it has reached what it called a "gentlemen's agreement" with rebel groups for a temporary ceasefire in tsunami-hit Aceh province. Following the December disaster, officials warned aid workers of threats from the Free Aceh Movement rebels, (GAM) who have been fighting the government for nearly 30 years.

Officials say rebels have attacked relief supply convoys and a foreign doctor was briefly taken hostage. The Free Aceh Movement has denied the charges and said it will not attack aid workers. Humanitarian workers have said they were not overly worried about rebel attacks.

Meanwhile, international forensic experts are in Thailand and Sri Lanka to help identify those killed in last month's deadly tsunami.

Using dental records, fingerprints and DNA samples, officials hope to identify thousands of corpses, some of which have already been buried in mass graves.

In Thailand, where many of the missing are foreign, officials have created the Disaster Victim Identification Center to coordinate efforts. The operation is expected to last more than six months.

Relief efforts continue throughout southern Asia as workers search for bodies, clean up wreckage, rebuild infrastructure and try to prevent disease outbreaks among survivors.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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