Indonesia's most-wanted terrorist shot dead

Indonesian security forces stand guard at the hospital where a body believed to be that of the country's most-wanted militant, Santoso, who was killed in a clash with security forces, is lying in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia on July 19.
Indonesian security forces stand guard at the hospital where a body believed to be that of the country's most-wanted militant, Santoso, who was killed in a clash with security forces, is lying in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia on July 19. PHOTO: REUTERS

Indonesia closed an important chapter in its war on terror after it was confirmed yesterday that security forces had shot and killed Santoso, the country's most-wanted terrorist. "Yes, he's dead," said Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan.

Counter-terrorism experts, however, warned that this would not end Indonesia's war on extremism.

Institute for International Peace Building director Taufik Andrie told The Straits Times that Santoso's death was an achievement for the police and military. "But it does not mean the MIT and other groups will be disbanded," he said, referring to the acronym for Santoso's militant group, known locally as Mujahideen Indonesia Timur.

Another Jakarta-based security analyst, Ms Sidney Jones, was quoted as saying Santoso's death would not have any effect on the security situation in the country. "It doesn't affect the level of threat in Indonesia, and we may see an intensified effort by Santoso's friends and alumni in Syria to urge followers to take revenge," she said.

Santoso became involved in extremism during a bloody conflict that broke out between Muslims and Christians in Central Sulawesi from the late 1990s to the early 2000s, which left hundreds dead.

He went on to form the MIT and quickly jumped to the top of the most-wanted list after his men began killing police officers.

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Santoso was with wife when he was shot dead

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2016, with the headline 'Indonesia's most wanted terrorist shot dead'. Print Edition | Subscribe