PALU, Indonesia—A police officer and a suspected Islamic militant were killed in gunfire Thursday near a mountainous village believed to be a terrorist hideout in eastern Indonesia, local police said.
Brig. Gen. Ari Dono Sukmanto, chief of Central Sulawesi police, said another militant suspect was arrested after the unidentified gunmen fired at members of the Brimob special force while it was patrolling in Tounca village in Poso district.
He added that preliminary investigation indicated that the men were part of a terrorist group led by Abu Wardah Santoso, Indonesia’s most wanted terror suspect.
Santoso is wanted for several attacks on Java island and Poso in Central Sulawesi province, where a Muslim-Christian conflict killed at least 1,000 people from 1998 to 2002. He also is wanted for running terrorist training camp in the region. It’s still unclear whether Santoso was among the gunmen.
Police confiscated a gun, ammunition and explosive materials from the scene and were searching for gunmen who fled to the jungle, Sukmanto said.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has a secular central government. It has been battling terrorists since 2002, when militants linked to the Southeast Asian network Jemaah Islamiyah began attacking Western nightclubs, restaurants and embassies. They launched their mostly deadly attacks by far at Bali nightclubs in 2002, killing 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.
More recent terror attacks in Indonesia have been less deadly, and have targeted not Westerners but security forces and local “infidels.”