They have been relatively encircled."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan believes a joint military and police force have cornered the Santoso-led terror group operating in Poso, Central Sulawesi.

"Until now, we have been successful in cornering them in a smaller location, about 5 km by 5 km," Luhut Pandjaitan said here.

The area of operation is near a mountain, and security personnel have identified places where the Santoso group members stay, he added.

He expressed his surprise that within a short time span, the cooperation between military (TNI) and police (Polri) managed to surround and corner the group.

The minister hoped that Santoso will surrender to prevent undesirable consequences.

He, however, said the personnel are prepared for any eventualities, including any worst case scenario.

The minister could not state a deadline as to when Santoso would be captured.

"When it comes to fighting guerrillas, no country in the world can set a target. No one can say that within one or two months, all this would end," he said .

The minister noted that the Santoso groups guerrilla tactics are inseparable from a Poso conflict that had broken out in 1999.

A day earlier, the minister had said that the Tinombala Operation 2016 that was launched to hunt down Santoso and his men in the jungles of Poso, Central Sulawesi Province, has been extended for another six months.

"I propose that the operation be extended for six months because if it is extended every two months, we are just going to be busy with administrative matters," Panjaitan said.

The Indonesian military and police had launched a manhunt for the top leader of the Poso-based terrorist group, who is also known as Abu Wardah, through the Tinombala Operation 2016 on January 10, but he is yet to be caught.

"The period had to be extended because the joint operation involving the military and police personnel had run well for 43 days," he said, adding that the security personnel have been able to corner Santoso and his men.

"They have been relatively encircled," he stated.

The government has discussed the financial aspects of this extended operation and there will be a significant progress within the next few weeks, he stated.

The police chief also plans to visit Poso to observe the latest developments in the operation, Luhut Pandjaitan said.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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