The Jakarta Globe, Nurdin Hasan & Ismira Lutfia
The International Committee of the Red Cross suspended its operations in Aceh on Friday after the shooting of a senior worker.
Erhard Bauer, 50, chief of the German Red Cross delegation in Aceh, was shot by two unknown people on a motorcycle in Lampeuneurut, on the outskirts of Banda Aceh, at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Bauer was in the passenger seat of a Toyota Land Cruiser when he was shot three times with a short-barreled weapon.
He was hit in the stomach, arm and left forearm. The driver and two local staff in the car were unharmed.
He was evacuated to Singapore at midnight on Thursday for intensive treatment after a few hours at Zainoel Abidin General Hospital in Banda Aceh. “The victim was evacuated to Singapore because he did not want the surgery to remove the projectile in his abdomen to be done here [in Banda Aceh],” Aceh Police spokesman Farid Ahmad Saleh said.
Bob McKerrow, head of the IFRC delegation in Indonesia, told the Jakarta Globe that Bauer was operated on successfully on Friday and that he was recovering.
Police are still pursuing the attackers and investigating the possible motive, Farid said.
“The victim did not lose any of his possessions. For the time being, we suspect this is an attempt by unscrupulous parties to create disorder in safe and peaceful Aceh,” he said.
At the IFRC office in Ajun Jeumpet, in the suburbs of Banda Aceh, staff members were barred from entering the premises.
“I’m sorry. Today is a day off. No staff member is to enter, except for drivers,” a security officer said. Guests were also barred.
Aceh Red Cross head Bustari Mansyur said the IFRC and the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) had stopped their operations for the whole of Friday. “Cessation of Red Cross activity is a symbol of our consternation,” Mansyur said.
But an Irish Red Cross staff member, who wished to remain anonymous, said he had been sent an SMS asking him not to come to the office “until further notice.”
McKerrow said the one-day suspension of the work was because officials from the IFRC and PMI had to meet with the police. “There appear to be no motives so far, as the police could not find any,” McKerrow said.
He rejected the suggestion that any rogue elements of the disbanded Free Aceh Movement (GAM)might have been involved. “We are a humanitarian mission and we keep out of politics,” McKerrow said. He added that the IFRC had never had problems in Aceh during five years of its operations in the province.
He said the Red Cross operations would continue as normal. “The timeline for IFRC will continue as scheduled until the end of 2010,” McKerrow said.
The shooting was the first of a foreign national after the government of Indonesia and GAM signed a peace treaty in Helsinki in August 2005.