Indonesia’s most wanted activist killed in jungle shootout: NPR

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PALU, Indonesia – Indonesia’s most wanted activist linked to the Islamic State group was killed on Saturday in a shootout with security forces, the Indonesian military said, as part of a massive counterterrorism campaign against extremists in the remote mountain jungles.

Ali Kalora was one of two militants killed in the raid, the Central Sulawesi regional military leader, the brigadier, said. General Farid Makruf. He identified the other alleged extremist as Jaka Ramadan.

The two men were shot dead on Saturday evening by a joint team of military and police in the mountainous Parigi Moutong district of central Sulawesi province, Makruf said. It borders the district of Poso, considered an extremist hotbed in the province.

“Ali Kalora was the most wanted terrorist and the head of MIT,” Makruf said, referring to the Indonesian acronym for the East Indonesia Mujahideen Network, a militant group that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in 2014.

He said security forces were looking for four other suspected members of the group.

Saturday’s shooting came two months after security forces killed two suspected members of the group in a pre-dawn raid in the same mountainous district.

The Mujahedin in eastern Indonesia have claimed responsibility for several killings of police officers and minority Christians.

Security operations in the area have intensified in recent months in an attempt to capture members of the network, targeting Ali Kalora, the group’s leader.

Dozens of activists have been killed or captured

Kalora had escaped capture for over a decade. He succeeded Abu Wardah Santoso, who was killed by security forces in July 2016. Dozens of other leaders and members of the group have been killed or captured since then.

In May, militants killed four Christians in a village in Poso district, one of whom was beheaded. Authorities said the attack was revenge for the March murder of two activists, including Santoso’s son.

Makruf said the rugged terrain and darkness hampered efforts to evacuate the two bodies from the shooting scene in the wooded village of Astina. He said the bodies of Kalora and her disciple will be transported by helicopter on Sunday morning for further investigation and identification.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, has maintained a crackdown on militants since the 2002 bombings on the tourist island of Bali killed 202 people, most of them foreigners.

Militant attacks on foreigners in Indonesia have largely been replaced in recent years by smaller, less deadly strikes targeting the government, primarily the police and counterterrorism forces, and people the militants see as infidels, inspired by the ISIS’s tactics abroad.

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