However, operations would be intensified both, at the military level and territorial fronts."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Santoso, one of the most wanted terror leaders in Indonesia, was finally eliminated in a gunfire by legal enforcers on July 18, after he remained a fugitive-in-hiding for almost a decade in the remote forested mountainous area in Poso District, Central Sulawesi Province.

Personnel of the Tinombala military operations task force were involved in a shootout with Santoso-led Eastern Indonesian Mujahidin members, and managed to kill two men, while three others, including two women, escaped, in Mt Tambarana area, Poso.

Reports about how long the encounter ran varied from it at half an hour to one and a half hour.

After a long evacuation and identification process, Chief of Tinombala Operation task unit, Senior Commissioner Leo Bona Lubis, confirmed the next day that the two men who were shot dead in Poso were indeed Santoso and one of his associates, Mukhtar.

"Based on a simple identification of the bodies, I, as the operations chief, can confirm that the shootout that occurred yesterday (July 18) between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. ended in the killing of terrorist leader Santoso and Mukhtar, both of whom were on the fugitives list," he said in Palu.

"The three people who escaped are suspected to be Basri, his wife and Santosos wife," he added.

Only 19 members of the Santoso-led armed Eastern Indonesian Mujahidin group now remain outside the reach of law.

They include Jumiatun Muslim alias Atun alias Bunga alias Umi Delima, the wife of Santoso, Tini Susanti Kaduku alias Umi Fadel (Ali Kaloras wife) and Nurmi Usman alias Oma (Basris wife).

Later, Commander of the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI), General Gatot Nurmantyo, and National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian personally checked the bodies of Santoso alias Abu Wardah and Mukhtar at the police hospital in Palu, the capital of South Sulawesi, on July 20.

The two four-star generals were accompanied by Army Chief of Staff, General Moeljono, and Chief of the National Counter-Terrorism Agency, Commissioner General Suhardi Alius.

General Tito, accompanied by General Gatot, reiterated that the body he had just seen was of Santoso, as confirmed on the basis of various checks ranging from fingerprint analysis to the identification of other physical marks as well as the recorded testimonies of his family members, adding that the result of the DNA test was still awaited.

He thanked the TNI commander, the army chief of staff, and their ranks as well as TNI and police personnel for their cooperation and joint efforts during the Tinombala Operation that led to the death of Santoso.

On the other hand, General Gatot remarked that the operation would continue with the same intensity even after Santosos death.

"In fact, the operation would be stepped up, though no new personnel would join it, as the existing team is considered adequate. However, operations would be intensified both, at the military level and territorial fronts," he affirmed.

Both, the TNI general and the police chief, appealed to Santosos men, who are still hiding in the hilly forests in Poso District, to surrender and return to the community fold after undergoing the judicial process.

Earlier, Karnavian expressed his belief that the terrorist group has weakened, particularly after the death of Santoso.

He lauded those who participated in he joint operation that involved personnel from the police, military, intelligence, and the National Counter-Terrorism Agency.

Deputy House Speaker Fadli Zon lauded the National Police and TNI for neutralizing Santoso.

"The achievement of the Tinombala task force during the operation in the Mt. Tambarana area is commendable. We hope that Santosos death will be able to paralyze the terror group that he headed," Zon affirmed.

Since the start of the joint operation in January 2016, the members of the task force had made several sacrifices, he pointed out.

Zon recalled that 13 military personnel had lost their lives when their helicopter crashed during the operation last March.

The success of the operation also demonstrated strong coordination between the National Police and TNI in implementing their on-field tasks, he noted.

The lawmaker, however, suggested applying a more holistic approach while conducting counterterrorism activities in Indonesia as terrorism was basically an act of crime, which was triggered by three factors.

"The first is the domestic factor that includes poverty, low level of education, and injustice with regard to the law enforcement process," he explained.

The second factor is an international one as terrorist groups have strong global networks to support their logistic and funding requirements, as well as emotional ties.

Zon said the third factor concerns the cultural aspect as several community groups still continue to have a narrow thought process while interpreting religious teachings.

Therefore, terrorism could not merely be dealt through repression but also through preventive actions, he emphasized.

The manner in which the criminal justice system handles terror groups should also be backed by economic, social and cultural approaches as part of the preventive measures, he stated.

Despite the death of Santoso, the Indonesian Police continues to hunt for terror cells in the country.

"There is the Arif Hidayat group in Bekasi and then Nur Rohmans (group). Some others are being investigated, and we continue to monitor them," Police spokesman Inspector General Boy Rafli Amar stated at the Police Headquarters in Jakarta, on July 21.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2016