ONE of Indonesia’s most wanted Islamic militants has reportedly been killed in a gunfight with police in a remote jungle area of Sulawesi.
Police say forensic tests will be carried out to determine if one of the men is the leader of the East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT) terrorist group, Santoso aka Abu Wardah.
A witness confirmed that Santoso was one of the two people killed in the shootout in Poso, Central Sulawesi, after being asked to identify a body.
National Police spokesman Maj. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said one of the bodies had characteristics including a goatee and a facial mole similar to Santoso, who leads the violent Mujahideen militant group.
The shootout occurred early Monday evening and three other militants, including two females, escaped into the jungle.
The two bodies will be taken to nearby Tambarana for identification.
Another corpse was identified as a militant member named Muctar.
According to the Jakarta Post, the two alleged terrorists engaged in a shootout with members of Alpha 29, a taskforce team taking part Operation Tinombala in Poso to flush out militants.
Santoso had been hiding in the mountainous forests of Poso with fellow guerillas, which prompted the launch of Operation Tinombala in January.
Some 3,500 personnel were mobilised in the joint-opearations to cordon off the group’s hiding spots and to hinder their supplies.
Initially, Santoso had 45 members in his group but the number dwindled to 14 after numerous clashes with security forces.
In July 2014, Santoso was said to have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.
Additional reporting by Associated Press