Indonesian militant gunned down by troops

Security forces yesterday shot and killed a terrorist believed to be a member of the East Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT), the militant group once headed by the country's most wanted terrorist, Santoso.

Indonesian troops involved in Operation Tinombala, whose mission is to capture members of the MIT in Poso, Central Sulawesi, were forced to fire on the suspect, reported Tempo news yesterday.

"A gunfight broke out at about 8.30am Central Indonesia time in a plantation area in Tombua, Tangkura village," an unnamed member of the task force was quoted as saying.

He added that his squad, code-named Charlie 16, was patrolling along the plantation area of Tombua when they chanced upon the militant.

The suspect was gunned down as he reached for a grenade and shouted "God is great" in Arabic after he was ordered to raise his arms and surrender, said the officer, who asked not to be named.

The militant, who was wearing camouflage fatigues, was shot in the head and died instantly, he added.

Troops later found four grenades and two machetes on the dead man.

The latest incident comes just days after security forces captured Basri, the Indonesian militant who assumed command of the MIT after Santoso was killed in July.

Basri, also known as Bagong, was ambushed near the coastline in Poso last Wednesday while he was on the run with his wife, Nurmi Usman, alias Oma. He did not resist arrest but another militant, named Sobron, managed to escape.

Tinombala troops also found the body of another MIT fighter, Andika Eka Putra, along a river on that same day. The police said Andika, who uses the alias Hilal, was travelling with Basri's group.

He died after he fell into the river when the group was trying to cross a makeshift bridge.

At its peak from 2013 to 2014, the MIT, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), was about 45-strong.

If the man shot dead yesterday is identified as a member of the MIT, the group would have been whittled down to 11.

Last Friday, The Jakarta Post reported that Basri underwent a psychiatric evaluation as part of the police investigation process.

In a brief interview with the newspaper, Basri would only say he was being treated well by the police.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2016, with the headline 'Indonesian militant gunned down by troops'. Print Edition | Subscribe