Indonesian police kill militant suspected in farmers' deaths

FILE - Central Sulawesi Regional Police spokesperson Col. Didik Supranoto holds a wanted poster with pictures of militant suspects, among them Al Ikhwarisman, also known as Jaid, top left, a key member of the East Indonesia Mujahideen network, during a news conference in Palu, Indonesia, on Jan. 4, 2022. Indonesia's elite counterterrorism police have killed Jaid who was believed responsible for the killings of Christian farmers on Sulawesi island and was the last remaining member of an organization that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, in a shootout late Thursday, Sept. 29. (AP Photo/Mohammad Taufan, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

PALU, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s elite counterterrorism police have killed a militant who was the last remaining member of an organization that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, police said Friday.

Police said Al Ikhwarisman, also known as Jaid, was a key member of the East Indonesia Mujahideen network.

The East Indonesia Mujahideen, known by the Indonesian acronym MIT, has claimed responsibility for the killings of police officers and minority Christians, some by beheading, and has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.

Provincial police chief Rudy Sufahriadi said Jaid conducted at least 10 of the group’s executions, including the killing of four Christian farmers in May 2021. He was killed by the Densus 88 counterterrorism unit in a shootout late Thursday in mountainous Kawende village in Poso district, an extremist hotbed in Central Sulawesi province, Sufahriadi said.

Thursday’s shootout occurred four months after security forces killed the other remaining member of MIT in a jungle shootout, police said.

“He was the last remaining suspected member of the group,” Sufahriadi said. “We have managed to eliminate a dangerous militant group that has disturbed peace in Poso.”

Security operations in Central Sulawesi were intensified last year to capture MIT members, particularly Ali Kalora, the group’s leader and Indonesia’s most wanted militant. Kalora was killed in a shootout in July 2021, two months after the group killed the four Christians in Kalemago village, including one who was beheaded.

Authorities said the attack was in revenge for the killing in March 2021 of two militants, including the son of the group’s former leader, Abu Wardah Santoso.

Santoso, Kalora’s predecessor, was killed by security forces in July 2016. Dozens of other leaders and members of the group who escaped to remote mountain jungles of Poso have since been killed or captured.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, has conducted a crackdown on militants since bombings on the resort island of Bali in 2002 killed 202 people, mostly Western and Asian tourists.

Militant attacks on foreigners in Indonesia have been largely replaced in recent years by smaller, less deadly strikes targeting the government, mainly police and anti-terrorism forces, and people militants consider to be infidels, inspired by Islamic State group tactics abroad.