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A number of residents of Tamanjeka hamlet, which is believed to have become a terrorist hideout in Poso Pesisir district in Poso, Central Sulawesi, have decided to temporarily evacuate to neighboring Weralulu hamlet, fearing a possible gun battle between authorities and hard-line group members.
The residents evacuated upon hearing that the National Police planned to carry out a massive operation against terrorist groups, who have challenged them through a series of attacks, which peaked with the sadistic slaying of two policemen — Brig. Andi Sappa and Chief Brig. Sudirman.
No details were available on the number of people evacuating to safe areas, but they consisted mostly of housewives, children and the elderly.
The bodies of Sappa and Sudirman were found buried together in Tamanjeka hamlet on Tuesday. They had been missing for eight days.
The two police officers, who were killed by unknown assailants, were laid to rest Thursday in their respective hometowns in South Sulawesi. A family funeral was held for Sappa in Pabah village, Luwu regency, while Sudirman was buried in Karaeng Bontomarannu Heroes Cemetery in Takalar regency.
A large-scale deployment of police officers, with back-up by the Indonesian Military (TNI), will occur on Friday, one-day later than originally scheduled.
Central Sulawesi Police chief Brig. Gen. Dewa Parsana said Thursday that while waiting for the massive deployment, officers combed forests believed to have been used as training grounds by alleged terrorist groups in Poso.
Dewa did not mention when the massive manhunt would end. “As long as there are still hard-line groups in Poso, the operation will continue,” he said.
Poso was the site of bloody clashes between Christian and Muslim communities between 1997 and 2001.
Dewa explained that the police had also scoured the location where the two officers were killed in search of evidence that might provide clues in the case.
Dewa further explained that there was no evidence the fallen police officers had been shot.
“Based on the post-mortem reports, the two officers were nearly beheaded. There weren’t any signs of gunshot wounds,” he said, adding that their wounds indicated that the two officers had been severely tortured by a sadistic group of people.
Family members of the two victims broke down in tears as the bodies of their loved ones arrived at Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport in the provincial capital of Makassar on Thursday morning.
Representing the victims’ families, Sudirman’s wife, Sitti Rabiah, 29, and Sappa’s father, Gabbu, demanded that the police bring the perpetrators to justice.
Sappa is survived by a wife and two children, while Sudirman left a wife and two daughters.
The National Police have awarded posthumous promotions to both Sudirman and Sappa.
Poso time line
Oct. 9, 2012: An explosion occurs at a community hall in Kawua subdistrict, damaging a car and a motorcycle. No casualties are reported.
Oct. 4, 2012:
A shooting takes place in Masani village, injuring one. Hasman Sao
seeks treatment at Poso Regional Hospital for a major gunshot wound to
Aug. 27, 2012: An unidentified gunman shoots dead
Noldy Ombolando, a 20-year-old man from Sepe village, Lage subdistrict.
The police’s investigation aims to determine the motive behind the
June 4, 2011: Two suspects in the deaths of two police
officers in Palu, Central Sulawesi, are declared dead after a police
raid in the mountainous Tambaro subdistrict in Poso.
2011: Two police officers, Second Brig. Gustiar Yudistira and Second
Brig. Andi Irbar Prawira, are shot dead and another is seriously injured
by gunmen in front of a Bank Central Asia (BCA) office in Palu, Central
Sulawesi. Though Second Brig. Deddy Edward Undusten is shot in the
thigh, he survives.