Indonesia withdraws another 2,600 troops from Aceh

Another 2,600 Indonesian soldiers withdrew from tsunami-battered Aceh province on Tuesday as part of the military's commitment to an accord to end three decades of fighting with separatist rebels, an official said.

The troops among some 30,000 security forces slated to leave the province by Dec. 31 set sail from the northern port town of Lhokseumawe on three warships, with another 3,500 soldiers scheduled to go by the month's end. Indonesia withdrew its first 800 troops on Sunday.

The soldiers sang and waved their helmets in the air on Tuesday as they boarded the vessels, which left for the towns of Palembang on Sumatra island, and Semarang and Surabaya on the main island of Java.

"This withdrawal reflects our commitment to fulfill our obligation to support the peace deal," said local military commander Maj. Gen. Supiadin Aries Saputra.

The agreement to end the civil war that has killed 15,000 people since 1976 calls on the Indonesian military to more than halve the troops it has in the province by the year's end and for separatist rebels to hand in all of their self-declared 840 weapons, reports the AP.

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