JAKARTA - Indonesia's most wanted terror suspect Santoso may have been killed during a gunfight with security forces last Thursday, police said on Sunday (Jan 17), but added that it may take up to a week to confirm the killing.
National Police confirmed a militant was killed during an exchange of fire with security forces but stopped short of saying he was Santoso, the leader of the East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT).
Spokesman Anton Charilyn said DNA testing would be done to identify the body and he would not rule out the possibilty that it was Santoso.
His comment came amid speculation that a body, seen in a photograph that has been widely circulating in Indonesia, belonged to Santoso. The suspected terror chief and his men from the MIT have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and are behind numerous attacks on security personnel in recent years.
If Santoso, whose real name is Abu Wardah, is confirmed to be killed, it would be a major scalp for Indonesia's counter-terrorism forces. Thousands of police and TNI personnel have been deployed in Poso to take out Santoso and his men from MIT.
The Jakarta Post earlier on Sunday quoted Pian Djumpai, a former combatant from Poso in central Sulawesi, as saying the man killed in the skirmish with police and the Indonesian military (TNI) in central Sulawesi on Thursday, when four terrorists carried out coordinated attacks in the capital Jakarta, killing four civilians and injuring more than 20 others.
Indonesian ISIS loyalist Bahrun Naim allegedly masterminded the attacks and 12 suspects linked to him have been arrested.
A journalist from the newspaper had apparently obtained a photograph of the corpse and showed it to Pian for verification.
The province's governor Longki Djanggola reportedly said he had received reliable information indicating that the dead terrorist was indeed Santoso.