Santoso group`s strength declining: National police chief

Nusa Dua, Bali (ANTARA News) - National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian said here on Thursday that the strength of the terrorist group once led by Santoso is declining following the recent arrest of Basri, the second in command of the group.

"He (Basri) is the second man in the Santoso group and (with his arrest) the strength of the group has automatically been reduced," he stated after leading a meeting on preparations for the upcoming 85th Interpol General Assembly in Nusa Dua, Bali.

He called upon the remaining members of the group to "descend from the hills" and surrender to the police.

"They do not like the word surrender because according to their ideology, it is haram (prohibited by religion) to surrender to their enemies. We have been so far considered as their enemies. So please "descend from the hills" for the good of the people in Poso," he urged.

Tito, a former chief of the National Counter-Terrorism Agency (BNPT), informed that 12 to 13 members of the group were still in hiding, and included Alo Karora, a cadre member wanted by the police for long but who ranks below Santoso and Basri.

"We will keep searching for them until all of them are arrested," he vowed.

Basri was nabbed by the Tinombala task force along with his wife on Wednesday (Sept 14).

One of his men died after he fell into and was washed away by the rivers current in Poso.

General Tito assured that the police would treat them well if they did not defy and stayed away from violence.

According to the police, Basri did not put up any resistance at the time of his arrest. He had replaced Santoso and had pledged allegiance to the ISIS as the group's leader after Santoso was killed.(*)