09/12/2013 05:44 EDT | Updated 11/12/2013 05:12 EST

Dutch government apologizes for killings in former colony Indonesia during independence war

JAKARTA, Indonesia - The Netherlands has formally apologized for mass killings committed by the Dutch military more than six decades ago during its former colony Indonesia's fight for independence.

Dutch Ambassador Tjeerd de Zwaan issued the apology Thursday to the widows of victims from South Sulawesi for his country's "excesses" that took place between 1945 and 1949.

De Zwaan said his government has agreed to compensate the victims' widows in Sulawesi and Rawagede with 20,000 euros ($26,612) after they turned to the Dutch courts seeking retribution. Rawagede, a small village in West Java, was the scene of the Dec. 9, 1947, killing of up to 430 boys and young men by Dutch troops.

Indonesia declared its independence from the Dutch on Aug. 17, 1945, but the Netherlands refused to acknowledge it until 1949.