The Jakarta Post
The National Police said on Friday that they would seek assistance from England's National Crime Agency (NCA) to further train the force's Mobile Brigade (Brimob) to help catch wanted terror suspect Santoso in Poso, Central Sulawesi.
National Police chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti said the plan was decided following the Indonesian Military's (TNI) reluctance to conduct a joint training session between the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus) and police officers in order to improve the latter's capability to survive in the wilderness.
'We have several alternatives if the TNI does not want to [conduct a joint training session]. One of the countries we may seek assistance from is England,' he told reporters at the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta.
Although the plan has not yet been made official, Badrodin said he hoped there could be an agreement between the NCA and the National Police so that an instructor from the agency could be sent to train Indonesian officers.
The National Police have been hunting down militant groups in Poso for more than 14 years with little progress. Santoso and members of the radical Mujahidin Indonesia Timru (MIT) group have been known to operate in the region for the last four years, hiding out in local forests to avoid being
Santoso's arrest has become increasingly important as the police suspect that his group has been communicating with the Islamic State (IS) movement in Iraq and Syria.
During a recent gun battle with members of the gang allegedly led by Santoso, a police officer, identified as First Insp. Bryan T. Tatonas from Central Sulawesi's Brimob, was fatally shot. A person believed to be part of the radical group also died from multiple gunshots during the shoot-out.
Badrodin said that there had been five shoot-outs since Monday, which involved 146 Brimob personnel, all of whom were still hunting for members of the group, thought to comprise 30 to 40 people.
'[One of the largest obstacles] is the size of the forest, which measures around 60 kilometers from end to end. If it was just a small 10-hectare area then we would have caught them by now,' he said.
He said that another reason the Santoso-led group had survived for years was because its members received support from locals in Poso.
'That's one of their strategies. Some [of the group members] live among the local communities. This is why they can easily receive weapons,' he said.
Separately, Institute of International Peace Building founder Noor Huda Ismail disagreed with Badrodin and said that locals in Poso did not assist the Santoso group in a show of support, but out of resentment toward the police force.
'The police have wrongly arrested civilians [as terrorist suspects] and may have tortured them. However, these civilians were never rehabilitated or given compensation for their wrongful arrests,' he told The Jakarta Post.
Noor Huda said locals in Poso begrudged the presence of the Santoso group but were forced to provide its members with basic needs.
In order to overcome such obstacles, he said, the police force must become more engaged with local communities in the region.
'The police force must change the way they deal with the locals,' he said.
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