Deputy Regional Police Chief of Central Sulawesi, Senior Commissioner Leo Bona Lubis, stated on Tuesday that the police has confirmed that one of the two radicals shot dead by the police-military joint task force was Santoso alias Abu Wardah, the leader of Posos armed terror group in Central Sulawesi.
"Based on physical examination, the body is of Santoso. We are now awaiting the result of the DNA test," he remarked at the Bhayangkara Hospital in Palu, Central Sulawesi, on Tuesday.
Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo hoped that Poso would soon recover and stability will return after the armed terrorist group was crushed by the Tinombala Operation Task Force on Monday evening.
"Following Santosos reported death, Central Sulawesi, particularly Poso, would soon attain stability and witness accelerated development," Minister Tjahjo Kumolo said.
The success of the military-police joint team in decimating the terror group was lauded by many sides, including President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and legislators.
Presidential Special Staff Johan Budi, in a short message to ANTARA on Tuesday, hailed the joint military-police task force. He said President Jokowi has expressed his appreciation for the successful task force operation.
"However, the President asked that the remaining members of the group should also be hunted down," reminded Johan, adding that the head of state urged the people to remain vigilant against the threat of terrorism.
Johan Budi cautioned that vigilance should not weaken but should rather be increased to keep the state and nation safe from the threat of terrorism.
Appreciation also came from the House of Representatives (DPR). The Chairman of Commission III on security affairs of the DPR, Bambang Soesatyo, underlined that the death of the Eastern Indonesian Mujahidin leader proved that Indonesia was consistently fighting terrorism.
"The death of Santoso is a message to the international community and proof that Indonesia is consistent in its efforts to eliminate terrorist cells at home," Soestayo said on Tuesday.
The Chief Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, also confirmed that the bodies of the two terrorists who died in the exchange of gunfire on Monday belonged to Santoso and Mukhtar.
Luhut noted that although the armed group has become weaker after the death of Santoso, the Tinombala Task Force operations will be continued to trace the remaining 19 members of the group.
The task force will continue to carry out further operations, and its strength will be enhanced.
"The Tinombala Operation will be continued," Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar, Public Relations Division Chief of the National Police Headquarters said meanwhile.
Amar affirmed that the operations will be continued to crush the terrorist group in Poso.
This is to entirely eliminate terrorist activities and to anticipate the emergence of new terror cells. "With the operations ongoing, the groups movement has been restricted, and it will face difficulties in procuring logistics, which will further weaken it," he pointed out.
The Tinombala operation, involving a special team of three thousand military and police personnel, was started in January 2016 in line with President Joko Widodos directive to wipe out the Santoso group, which had made Poso a terror hotbed for years.
The Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) Chief Spokesman Maj. Gen. Tatang Sulaiman stated that the Raider Battalion 515 of the Armys Strategic Command Force (Kostrad) and the Tinombala Task Force exchanged gunfire with the Santoso group on Monday evening (July 18). One of the group members, suspected to be Santoso, was shot dead.
"Hence, there were armed terrorists exchanging gunfire with the Kostrads Raider Battalion 515 and the Tinombala Task Force," the TNI chiefs spokesman noted.
The gunfight began at 5 p.m. Central Indonesia Standard Time. Five members of the extremist group and five personnel of the Tinombala Task Force were involved in the exchange of gunfire that ended in the killing of two terrorists, one of whom is strongly believed to be Santoso.
The shootout took place in Tambarana in the northern coastal area of Poso, or some 60 kilometers from Poso.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla has praised the performance of the Tinombala Operations task force in paralyzing the Santoso-led terrorist group.
"We highly laud the police and soldiers, who have conducted a large-scale operation for months to hunt down the terrorist leader," the vice president remarked at the Pondok Gede Hajj Dormitory in East Jakarta on Tuesday.(*)