Indonesian Police: Soldier, 2 MIT Suspects Die in Poso Gunfight

Keisyah Aprilia
Palu, Indonesia
2021-03-02
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Indonesian Police: Soldier, 2 MIT Suspects Die in Poso Gunfight Inspector Gen. Abdul Rakhman Baso, the police chief of Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi province, points to photos of two members of the Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen who were killed in a shootout with authorities in the Poso regency, March 2, 2021.
Wahono/BenarNews

A government task-force member and two suspected Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen militants including the son of Santoso, the group’s slain leader, died in a shootout in Central Sulawesi province, police said Tuesday.

The gunfight between security forces and four members of MIT, a pro-Islamic state Indonesian militant group occurred Monday in Poso Pesisir Utara district, provincial police chief Inspector Gen. Abdul Rakhman Baso said.

Rakhman identified the dead soldier as Dedi Irawan and the MIT members as fugitives Khairul, 25, (alias Irul or Aslam) and Alvin, 27, (alias Mus’ab). He said Khairul was the son of Santoso, MIT’s leader and Indonesia’s most wanted militant at the time, who was killed by security forces in 2016.

“Irul died after a bomb he was carrying exploded, causing burns on parts of his body, while Alvin was shot in the head,” Rakhman told reporters in the provincial capital, Palu.

Rakhman said Khairul was a local resident while Alvin came from neighboring Banten province.

Security forces had received intelligence that four MIT members, including the group’s leader, Ali Kalora, were planning to carry out an attack in the area, Rakhman said without providing details on the alleged plot.

Security personnel ambushed the suspects in the mountainous Andole area, leading to a gunfight that lasted about 30 minutes, he said.

“According to information from the field, after two MIT members were killed on the spot, the two other MIT members fled,” Rakhman said. “From the location, officers found 11 bullets, a number of shells, machetes, a GPS and others things.”

Rakhman said soldiers and police were hunting for the remaining members of the MIT, whose numbers were reduced to nine following the shootout, according to the authorities.

Don’t help MIT

Brig. Gen. Farid Makruf, the local military commander, vowed to work with police to hunt down the remaining MIT members.

“We hope their number will not increase. We appeal to the public not to support them,” Farid told BenarNews.

Last week, security forces clashed in Parigi Moutong regency with MIT members who managed to escape even though they suffered injuries, Farid said.

“We believed that two MIT members were injured, because traces of blood were found in the location where the shootout took place,” he said.

The security forces fired at the militants who had thrown an explosive at them, Farid said.

Police and military members have operated a joint task force, Operation Tinombala, whose mission since 2016 has been to hunt down MIT militants.

Last November, MIT members crossed into Sigi, a neighboring regency, where they killed four Christian villagers. One of the victims was beheaded, according to the authorities.

Beginning on Jan. 1, authorities have taken a new approach to bringing an end to MIT, renaming Tinombala as Madago Raya (Kindness). With the new name comes a new focus on humanitarian and social activities, provincial police spokesman Didik Supranoto said.

“There will be training specifically designed for youths. The training programs will be based on interests of the youth, for example, if there are young people who want to develop skills in sports, we will provide them with training,” he said.

He said the task force would also conduct social activities regularly, including providing assistance to communities affected by the conflict to keep them from joining with the militants.

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