JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian security forces on Wednesday shot and killed two alleged members of an Islamic militant group suspected of involvement in attack on a policeman on Sulawesi island earlier in the day.
The two men, believed to be members of the East Indonesia Mujahideen militant group, were killed in a gunfight in Kayamanya village in Poso, a mountainous district considered an extremist hotbed in Central Sulawesi province, local police spokesman Didik Supranoto said.
Supranoto said a security video led police and military to a house in the village while they were searching for two gunmen who critically wounded a police officer in an attack in front of a bank on Wednesday afternoon.
The video showed two attackers wearing helmets shooting the policeman and then fleeing on a motorbike when the injured officer tried to resist with a gun.
Supranoto said the suspects refused to surrender and shot at police during the raid on the house.
“They were the planners and were directly involved in the attack,” Supranoto said.
Police seized weapons and the motorbike used in the attack, and defused at least two bombs found in the house, he said.
Security operations have been intensified in the past months in Poso to try to capture the group’s members. It still has an estimated nine members after more than 30 were captured or killed in the past year. Its leader, Abu Wardah Santoso, was killed in a shootout with security forces in 2016.
Supranoto said group’s strength was weakened after the death of Santoso, but it remains dangerous under its current leader, Ali Kalora.
Indonesia, which is home to some 230 million Muslims, has carried out a sustained crackdown on Islamic militants since bombings on the tourist island of Bali in 2002 killed 202 people, mostly foreigners.
The Jemaah Islamiyah network, which was blamed for the Bali attacks, was neutralized following the arrests of hundreds of its members and leaders. But new threats have emerged in recent times from Islamic State group-inspired radicals who have targeted security forces and local “infidels” instead of Westerners.
Late last year, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the Medan city police station, wounding at least six people. That attack came as Indonesia’s counterterrorism force worked to root out suspected Islamic militants following an assault by a knife-wielding militant couple who wounded Indonesia’s top security minister in October.
This story corrects the spelling of the police spokesman’s name to Supranoto instead of Supranto.