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Ruslan Sangadji
Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014

Asia

Joint force locates terrorist hideout in Indonesia

The Jakarta Post/ANN | Ruslan Sangadji | Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014

Santoso, alias Abu Wardah, is not only Indonesia’s most wanted terrorist but has also brazenly sworn allegiance to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

A joint force formed by police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) located on Friday the hiding place of terror suspect Santoso in Poso Pesisir district in Poso regency, Central Sulawesi.

The raid was made following the murder of M. Fadli, 50, a farmer of Padalembara village in Poso Pesisir district the previous day. Police suspect that a Santoso-led terror cell is responsible for the murder.

"A gunfight took place at one point between security personnel and members of the terrorist group, but no one was killed or injured," Central Sulawesi Police chief spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Utoro Saputro told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

He added that after the gunfight, members of the group, believed to be from the hardline East Indonesia Mujahidin (MTI) led by Santoso, alias Abu Wardah, fled the scene.

The joint team, comprising the Central Sulawesi Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob), Poso Regency Police, the National Police's Densus 88 counterterrorism unit and TNI personnel confiscated evidence, including 320 5.56 millimeter (mm) bullets, 13 empty shells, 12 Colt 45 mm bullets, 12 assembled bombs and two ammunition magazines.

The team also seized two maps, a GPS device, seven backpacks, 12 mattresses, Rp 547,000 (S$60) in cash, five T-shirts, several papers written in Arabic, a pair of binoculars and a flashlight.

"We will continue to pursue members of the Santoso gang. We will comb all the forested areas in Poso Pesisir. We are determined to find Santoso, dead or alive," Utoro said.

Police believe the murderer of the Padalembara villager was affiliated with the MTI after accounts from witnesses, including the victim's wife, Syahini, 40, described the assailants as wearing military fatigues, face masks and carrying assault rifles.

"Based on statements from eyewitnesses, the perpetrators said that anyone in Poso working with police and providing information would be killed," said Utoro.

The MTI claimed responsibility for the killing in a press release made available to several media outlets following Fadli's murder.

"We hereby declare that the report over the murder is true and we, the East Indonesia Mujahidin, are responsible for this," the release stated.

In the statement, which was written on Sept. 19, the MTI said their members had "slaughtered" Padalembara resident Fadli because the latter had provided information to Densus 88 that led to an attack. Two MTI members, Fani and Abu Ayman, were shot and killed during a raid by police in February this year.

A gunfight between security forces and terrorists took place on Friday MTI terrorist group claims responsibility for the killing of M. Fadli, a farmer in Poso Pesisir district Police believe the terrorist group is led by Santoso, alias Abu Wardah

According to the MTI, the murder is a reminder to residents not to become informants for Densus 88.

"We call on residents who collaborate with police to stop their act and repent," the release wrote.

Utoro said police had received a statement from the MTI. However, he said, he doubted that the statement had been written in Poso.

Utoro reiterated that the police never recruited civilians to become informants. "We request statements from residents only when they are eyewitnesses to a specific incident," he said.

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