Indonesian police search for suspected pro-IS militants after killing 2 people in raid – BenarNews
Indonesian security forces were looking for three suspected members of a pro-Islamic State extremist group who escaped a raid that killed two other suspects in central Sulawesi province over the weekend, said Monday. officials.
Members of a joint army and police task force on Sunday killed the two suspects – identified as Rukli and Ahmad Gazali – who were linked to the Mujahedin group in eastern Indonesia (MIT) during a shooting in their hiding place in the jungle of the regency of Parigi Moutong, provincial police said spokesman Didik Supranoto.
“Task force members are roaming the area because we suspect the three who escaped are still hiding near the scene,” he told BenarNews, noting that the rugged terrain made the search difficult.
“The three MIT enthusiasts know the area.
With the deaths of the two suspected activists, MIT is down to just seven members, officials said.
In May, police said MIT had split into two groups in an attempt to evade authorities, one led by Ali Kalora active in the Sigi regency and the other led by an activist named Qatar operating in Poso.
At least one of the three who escaped the raid may have been injured as traces of blood were found at the scene, Didik said. Security forces also found bullets, homemade bombs, a compass and a walkie-talkie.
Brig. General Farid Makruf, deputy head of the operation to eliminate the militants – codenamed Madago Raya – said Sunday’s raid targeted an MIT camp. Army Special Forces (Kopassus) 1st Lieutenant David Manurung led the raid after receiving a tip from nearby residents.
“Two members of MIT were shot dead. Both died instantly, ”Farid told BenarNews, adding that the militants retaliated but none of the soldiers were injured.
The transport of the bodies of the militants to the provincial capital Palu was delayed by bad weather and rough terrain, Didik said.
“There is still fog up there, so the recovery cannot be done today by a helicopter. The task force is still waiting for the weather to improve before the bodies can be transported, ”he said.
The camp was about 20 km (12 miles) from the nearest village, Didik said.
“People were going about their business as usual,” he said.
Muh Tardi, a local cocoa farmer, said residents had spoken about the shooting but there was no tension in the area.
“People gathered at the village office because they had heard about the raid and shooting in the Tokasa mountains. There is chatter, but no one seems too worried, ”Tardi said.
“We hope that the operation will be completed quickly and that all supporters of MIT will be arrested, so that Parigi Moutong and Poso can be completely safe from terrorist unrest.”
Provincial police chief Inspector General Abdul Rakhman Baso, who commands the counterinsurgency operation, said he hoped the remaining MIT militants could be arrested by the end of the year.
He said he was optimistic that the goal could be achieved with the support of all segments of society, including religious leaders, the local council and the government.
“With the size they are now – seven – they are getting weaker. We are convinced that they can be eliminated, ”Rakhman told BenarNews.
Mohammad Affandi, a local terrorism researcher, said the police chief’s goal was unlikely to become a reality.
“It is impossible for the remaining seven people to be captured in such a short time. It’s a pipe dream, ”Affandi told BenarNews.
“The newly deployed troops definitely don’t know the terrain.
Staff on the task force are frequently changed, Affandi said.
“They continue to remove staff who have familiarized themselves with the terrain and deploy new staff who do not know the area. In doing so, they continue to expand the operation and it has become endless, ”he said.
Moh Taufiqurrohman, a researcher at the Center for Radicalism and Deradicalization Studies (PAKAR), said the deaths of two MIT infantrymen would not significantly affect the group.
“MIT is difficult to eradicate as they control the area and continue to receive logistical and personal support from ISIS supporters inside and outside Poso,” he told BenarNews, referring to the regency which is the focus of the group’s activity.
The group survived in the mountains and jungles of Poso despite being chased by police and military forces since 2015. In 2016, police killed Santoso, who was the head of MIT and the first Indonesian activist to lend. public allegiance to ISIS.
MIT is one of two pro-IS groups operating in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority country in the world. The other is Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), whom authorities have blamed for terrorist attacks in the archipelago nation over the past five years.