The Jakarta Post
A member of the terrorist East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT) group has been shot dead in a shootout in Poso regency, Central Sulawesi, as militants left their hideout in search of food, a top police official said on Monday.
Central Sulawesi police chief Brig. Gen. Rudy Sufahriadi said police had yet to identify the dead gunman, but from photographic evidence believed him to be one of the group's Chinese Uighur members.
The body was taken to the Bhayangkara Police Hospital in the provincial capital Palu for identification.
According to reports, the shoot-out took place after joint police and military troops, grouped under Operation Tinombala, pursued four alleged MIT partisans looking for food in Pantangolemba village, Poso Pesisir Selatan subdistrict, on Saturday.
Local farmers reported to security personnel that they had heard gunshots from the west of the village. Operation Tinombala personnel then ordered villagers to vacate the area before advancing in search of the militants.
Shots were exchanged before the unidentified four men fled into the forest.
As the soldiers continued to sweep the area in search of the four gunmen on Sunday, they found a dead body in the forest, as well as evidence including a pipe bomb, a small backpack containing supplies and a cleaver.
With the most recent death, Santoso's group is now thought to be down to 25 people.
The group originally numbered six Chinese Uighurs , two of whom were killed in a shoot-out last month.
An alleged MIT member named Irfan Maulan aka Akil turned himself in to the security authorities on Friday, claiming that hunger and exhaustion had forced him to surrender. (afr/rin)
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