BANDA ACEH, Indonesia – Rebels in Aceh province on Tuesday accused Indonesian soldiers of killing at least 15 people since a peace deal was signed last week to end the region's 26-year separatist war.
The rebel claim came as Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri prepared to fly to the region for a two-day visit to celebrate the accord.
The military denied troops have killed anyone since the signing.
"I have checked with commanders on the ground and they said that there were no dead bodies found," Aceh military spokesman Lt. Col. Firdaus Komarno told The Associated Press.
Security officials, however, acknowledged that clashes had occurred in remote parts of the region in recent days.
International mediators who brokered the deal have warned that violations of the deal are likely, but observers say it remains the best hope of ending the conflict that has killed at least 12,000 people in the past decade.
Both sides have pledged to cease offensive military actions.
However, rebel spokesman Sofyan Daud said military troops shot and killed seven insurgents and one civilian early last week in Panga, West Aceh. Seven other civilians were killed in different parts of Aceh during the week, he added.
"Indonesian soldiers are still continuing their military operations regardless of what they say," he said.
Police spokesman Maj. Taufik Sugiono confirmed that soldiers have clashed with rebels but declined to say how many were killed.
"We don't want to make this information public as this will disturb the peace process," Sugiono said.
The rebels and the Indonesian government signed the peace deal on Dec. 9 in Geneva. The accord grants greater autonomy to Aceh but not independence. It also calls for legislative elections in 2004.
President Megawati is scheduled to travel to the region, about 1,100 miles northwest of Jakarta, later Tuesday for prayers and talks with local leaders.
Unlike previous visits which lasted only several hours because of safety fears, she plans to spend the night in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh.
International peace monitors affiliated with the Henry Dunant Center for Humanitarian Dialogue, which brokered the deal, have arrived in Aceh and are scheduled to hold their first meeting by Friday.