Alleged militants kill police officer in eastern Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Alleged members of an extremist militant group shot a police officer to death in eastern Indonesia in the latest assault targetting security officials, police said yesterday.

Five gunmen ambushed and took hostage villagers and police officers who had just returned from Friday prayers at a small mosque near a police post in Central Sulawesi province’s Salubanga village, said National Police spokesman Argo Yuwono. He said the hostages managed to escape when the gunmen, believed to be members of the East Indonesia Mujahideen militant group, sneaked into the mosque’s yard and opened fire at the officers and villagers, killing a police officer, and fled to a nearby forested area in Parigi Moutong district.

The attack occurred amid security operations that had been intensified in the past months in Poso, a neighbouring mountainous district considered an extremist hotbed, to try to capture the rest of the group’s members.

The group still has some nine members after more than 30 were captured or killed in the past year. The group’s leader, Abu Wardah Santoso, was killed in a shootout with security forces in 2016.

Yuwono said that although the strength of the extremist group was weakened after the death of Santoso, it remains dangerous under its current leader, Ali Kalora.