PALU, Indonesia - Indonesia's elite counterterrorism police have killed a militant who was believed responsible for the killings of Christian farmers on Sulawesi island and was the last remaining member of an organization that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, police said Friday.
Police said Al Ikhwarisman, also known as Jaid, was a key member of the East Indonesia Mujahideen network. He was killed by the Densus 88 counterterrorism unit in a shootout late Thursday in a mountainous Kawende village in the Poso district, an extremist hotbed in the Central Sulawesi province, provincial police chief Rudy Sufahriadi said.
The East Indonesia Mujahideen, known by the Indonesian acronym MIT, has claimed responsibility for the killings of police officers and minority Christians, some by beheading. It has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group. Sufahriadi said Jaid conducted at least 10 of the group's executions, including the killing of four Christian farmers in May 2021.
Thursday's shootout occurred four months after security forces killed the other remaining member of MIT in a jungle shootout, police said.
'He was the last remaining suspected member of the group,' Sufahriadi said, 'We have managed to eliminate a dangerous militant group that has disturbed [the] peace in Poso.'
Security operations in Central Sulawesi were intensified last year to capture MIT members, particularly Ali Kalora, the group's leader and Indonesia's most wanted militant. Kalora was killed in a shootout in July 2021, two months after the group killed the four Christians in the Kalemago village of the Poso district, including one who was beheaded.
Authorities said the attack was in revenge for the killing in March 2021 of two militants, including the son of the group's former leader, Abu Wardah Santoso.
Santoso, Kalora's predecessor, was killed by security forces in July 2016. Dozens of other leaders and members of the group who escaped to remote mountain jungles of Poso have since been killed or captured.
Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, has conducted a crackdown on militants since bombings on the resort island of Bali in 2002 killed 202 people, mostly Western and Asian tourists.
Militant attacks on foreigners in Indonesia have been largely replaced in recent years by smaller, less deadly strikes targeting the government, mainly police and anti-terrorism forces, and people militants consider to be infidels, inspired by Islamic State group tactics abroad.