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Aceh Rebels Claim To Hold Missing TV Crew

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JAKARTA (JP/Pacific Media Watch): Separatist guerrillas in the war-torn Indonesian province of Aceh said Thursday they are holding five people, including a three-member television crew which has been missing since Sunday, Agence France-Presse reports.

"I have received a report this morning that the two RCTI crew and their driver as well as two civilians are in the hands of our men," said Tengku Mansoor, the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) spokesman for East Aceh.

He told AFP the TV crew, their driver and the two unidentified civilians are being questioned by GAM's "military police".

"The reason that we are holding them for questioning is that the Indonesian military have been using the press to conduct intelligence operations in Aceh," Mansoor said. He declined further details but said the five are "healthy and unharmed."

Sources in Aceh said the two civilians are the wives of an air force lieutenant colonel and an army second lieutenant. They were also reported missing on Sunday.

The TV crew -- a senior reporter, a cameraman and their driver -- went missing while driving from Langsa in East Aceh to Lhokseumawe.

An Aceh military spokesman, Firdaus Komarno, said the TV crew disappeared in a known rebel stronghold but he had no reports the guerrillas are holding them.

National police chief General Da'i Bachtiar said the police and the armed forces have formed a joint team to search for the TV crew.



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