Indonesian police shot dead two alleged militants and arrested five more in separate incidents while hunting for suspects in the shooting of two traffic officers in West Java province late last month, authorities said Tuesday.
Members of Densus 88, the nation’s elite counter-terror unit, killed the two suspects Monday as officers tried to arrest them during a raid, according to Inspector Gen. Setyo Wasisto, the national police spokesman.
“During the arrest, they resisted by firing at the police using a handgun which had been seized from an officer,” Setyo told reporters in Jakarta, referring to the two slain suspects.
During a routine patrol on Aug. 24, two police officers stopped to check on three men who were sitting on the side of a toll road in Cirebon regency. One of the three opened fire, hitting both officers, one of whom died at a hospital days later, while the other was in serious condition, investigators said.
On Sunday, three suspects were arrested, leading to the arrest of two more suspects, Setyo said.
Two other suspects, identified as Rajendra Sulistiyanto and Ica Ardebaron, were killed the following day in the Central Java town of Tegal, Setyo said.
According to him, Rajendra was a member of the Cirebon branch of the pro-Islamic State militant network Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which Indonesian authorities have blamed for a series of terrorist attacks in the country in recent years.
The authorities have arrested more than 350 suspected militants and killed 23 others across the country since mid-May, when suicide bombers attacked three churches and a police headquarters in Surabaya, the nation’s second largest city, officials said Tuesday. However, they declined to provide information on how many of those arrested suspects were still in jail.
The Surabaya bombings killed 14 bystanders, as well as 10 members of two families who were blamed for carrying out the bombings that were linked to JAD, police said.
In August, the national police deployed 170,000 personnel to secure the Asian Games, the largest sporting event after the Olympics that was hosted by Indonesia this year.
A terrorism expert at the Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Jakarta, Zaki Mubarak, said that a flurry of arrests in recent months were linked to the regional sporting event in Jakarta and Palembang, which ended on Sunday.
“There must have been a threat to the Asian Games and the police were aware of that,” he told BenarNews.