Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo hoped that Poso, Central Sulawesi, would soon recover and stability will return after the armed terrorist group led by Santoso was crushed by the Tinombala Operation Task Force on Monday evening.

"Following Santosos reported death, as per provisional reports, Central Sulawesi, particularly Poso, would soon attain stability and witness accelerated development," Minister Tjahjo Kumolo said on Tuesday.

The minister appreciated the joint military-police task force engaged in hunting down the members of the radical group hiding in the forests.

The Tinombala Task Force was a special team set up to track down the Santoso group. It comprised 3,000 police and military personnel.

The police and military personnel working with the Tinombala team had pushed the Santoso group into a position that left it with little room for movement.

The Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) Chief Spokesman, Maj. Gen. Tatang Sulaiman, informed that Raider Battalion 515 of the Armys Strategic Command Force (Kostrad) and the Tinombala Task Force exchanged fire with the Santoso armed group on Monday evening (July 18). Santoso was shot dead in this encounter.

"There was an armed encounter and gun fire was exchanged between the Kostrads Raider Battalion 515-Tinombala Task Force and members of the terrorist group," the TNI chief spokesman disclosed.

The encounter took place at 5 p.m. Central Indonesia Standard Time (WIT). Five members of the extremist group and as many personnel of the Tinombal Task Force were involved in the exchange of fire that left two terrorists dead, one of them strongly believed to be Santoso.

Police assured that one of the dead was Santoso alias Abu Wardah, leader of Posos radical armed group in Central Sulawesi.

Deputy Regional Police Chief of Central Sulawesi, Senior Commissioner Leo Bona Lubis, claimed on Tuesday that the other body was that of Mochtar, also a member of the same group.

"Based on physical examination, the body belongs to Santoso. We are now waiting for the result of the DNA test," he mentioned at Bhayangkara Public Hospital in Palu on Tuesday.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla lauded the Tinombala Operation task force for having decimated the terrorist group.

The Tinombala operation involved 2,500 military and police personnel. The task force was set up in January 2016 upon strict orders of President Joko Widodo to wipe out the terrorist group, which had posed a security threat to Poso for years.

"We express our greatest appreciation for the police and soldiers who carried out a large-scale operation for months to hunt down the terrorist leader," the vice president remarked at Pondok Gede Hajj Dormitory in East Jakarta on Tuesday.

Kalla noted that the government was still waiting for the results of the investigation and identification by relevant parties.

"If it is true that Santoso has died, that means we can now resolve Poso's problems, but we are still waiting for confirmation on the basis of DNA test," Kalla stated.(*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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