PARIGI, INDONESIA (AFP) – The leader of an Islamic State (IS)-linked militant network in Indonesia was killed in a shootout with security forces, police said yesterday.
Head of the East Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT) Ali Kalora was shot dead on Saturday in Sulawesi island’s jungle along with another member identified as Jaka Ramadhan.
Police said they have launched a manhunt for four more MIT militants.
“We will keep looking until we get them,” Central Sulawesi province Police Chief Rudy Sufahriadi said yesterday.
The weekend firefight took place two months after authorities shot down two suspected members of the group in the same Parigi Moutong district, near the extremist hotbed Poso district.
Designated a terrorist organisation by the United States (US), MIT is among dozens of radical groups across the Southeast Asian archipelago that have pledged allegiance to the IS.
After hiding out in the jungles of Sulawesi for years, the network is now estimated to have just a handful of members. But it has been accused of plotting several deadly attacks, including most recently killing four farmers – and reportedly beheading one – in a remote village in May.
Kalora took over leadership of MIT after the country’s most-wanted extremist, Santoso, was shot dead by troops in 2016.
A long-haired, gun-toting militant, Santoso regularly appeared in videos urging extremists to launch attacks on security forces.
He also recruited members from abroad, including several from China’s mostly Uighur ethnic minority.
After Indonesia suffered a string of extremist attacks in the early 2000s, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people, authorities launched a crackdown that weakened the most dangerous networks.
But the country has continued to wrestle with militancy and terror attacks.
In March, an IS-inspired Indonesian couple blew themselves up at a Makassar church on Sulawesi island, killing themselves and injuring dozens.