Indonesia nabs key militant in latest blow to IS-linked Santoso group
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Indonesia nabs key militant in latest blow to IS-linked Santoso group

INDONESIAN police say a senior figure from the East Indonesia Mujahideen (EIM) militant group has been captured and one of the group’s members killed in a joint operation with the military.

The capture of Muhammad Basri on Wednesday is another blow to the militant group, based in Central Sulawesi province.

The group’s leader, Santoso or Abu Wardah, who was Indonesia’s most wanted Islamic radical, was killed by security forces in a shootout in July.

Basri was Santoso’s deputy and may have assumed leadership of the group’s dwindling ranks following Santoso’s death.

The group is the first in Indonesia to claim allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) terror network.

SEE ALSO: Most-wanted Indonesian militant Santoso dies in shootout – reports

National Police spokesman Maj. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said the man shot dead Wednesday near Poso Pesisir village in the Poso district of Sulawesi was Andika Eka Putra.

According to a CNN report on Santoso’s death in July, police forces had been pursuing the group since 2012 but it took an “intensified, joint military and police operation” beginning early January to track down the militant.

The report added that Santoso had been blamed for numerous police killings in Central Sulawesi.

Santoso

Santoso aka Abu Wardah. Image via WikiCommons

Another militant killed during the standoff at the time was identified as a militant member named Muctar.

According to the Jakarta Post then, 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.

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 from the Associated Press