Poso, Central Sulawesi. The Indonesian government has extended Operation Tinombala 2016, its mission to hunt terror fugitives in the hilly jungles of Poso, Central Sulawesi, led by the Special Forces unit Kopassus, Chief Security Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said on Wednesday (09/03).
Speaking during a visit to Poso, Luhut said the operation has yet managed to capture the country’s most wanted terror fugitive since the mission on Jan. 10.
Santoso, a high-profile Indonesian militant who has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State movement, leads the East Indonesia Mujahidin, or MIT, which has for years evaded police by hiding out in the jungles around Poso.
Around 2,500 military and police personnel are currently looking for Santoso and his fighters under the leadership of Sr. Comr. Leo Bona Lubis.
“The early stages of Operation Tinombala 2016 has ended today [Wednesday]. We will continue [the operation] for the next six months,” said Luhut as reported by Antara news agency, adding that Kopassus will be deployed to help the operation on March 14.
Luhut said he appreciated the results of two-month operation, which has arrested and killed a number of fugitives, as well as confiscated militants’ weapons, amunitions and handmade bombs.
The most successful raid of the operation was recorded on Jan. 21, when the police were involved in a series of gunfights with members of Santoso's group, leading to the deaths of nine members and 21 arrests.
Another one Santoso’s followers was also shot dead on Feb. 28 in the mountains of Poso district after a shootout with the police.