Human rights officials in Central Sulawesi say they will investigate whether security forces used excessive force in shooting dead a suspected member of the Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT) group.
“The investigation is to find out whether the victim was shot dead because he was resisting, or not. If he did not, it’s very clear that police violated human rights,” said Dedi Askari, head of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) of Central Sulawesi, on Friday.
The law requires police to capture, investigate and prosecute suspects to establish their guilt, said Dedi, adding that his group would press charges if it was proven that the man was killed without resisting police.
Members of the Densus 88 counterterrorism squad and the police’s Mobile Brigade (Brimob) shot dead a man, whom Dedi identified as Farouk, at around 8:30 p.m. Thursday in Salubanga, a village in Central Sulawesi province’s Parigi Moutong regency. On Friday, the man’s body was taken to Bhayangkara hospital in Palu for an autopsy.
Three farmers were recently beheaded in Parigi Moutong, one of the suspected haunts of the MIT, an armed militant group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State extremist group.
In Palu, Central Sulawesi regional police spokesman Hari Suprapto told reporters that the death occurred during a shootout with police, but declined to give further details, including the name of the man shot dead, pending instructions from the National Police.
Local sources who did not want to be identified said security forces ambushed Farouk and others in the forest of Salubanga, triggering the firefight.
Afterwards, officers went to the scene to gather evidence while counterterror unit members continued to search at other locations for suspected MIT members.
Parigi Moutong is one of three operating points for a counterterrorism operation hunting down the MIT and its alleged leader, Santoso. The others are Poso and Sigi, also in Central Sulawesi.
Santoso and his followers have been included on the National Police wanted list since 2012. While Santoso is still at large, MIT members and sympathizers and followers have been arrested or killed in police operations.
Police sources linked Farouk to a series of terror attacks in Central Sulawesi and an August firefight in Poso Pesisir, where a Brimob officer and a member of the Santoso group were killed.