05/19/2022, 14.32
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24 suspected terrorists arrested in Central Sulawesi

by Mathias Hariyadi

Police also seized machetes and air rifles. The suspected criminals are part of the East Indonesian Mujahideen and are mostly from Poso, a city that has been at the center of sectarian violence for years.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Indonesian police have arrested 24 suspected terrorists. The operation was led by the Densus 88 counterterrorism team. The arrests aevended on May 14. At least "22 suspects were arrested in Central Sulawesi," police spokesman Brigadier General Ahmad Ramadhan announced. "One suspected terrorist was arrested in Bekasi and another in East Kalimantan." The IDF also seized a revolver, 10 air rifles and 26 machetes. 

Most of the alleged terrorists are from Poso, a town in Central Sulawesi that has been at the center of sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians for years. Hidden in the mountains, the Mujahideen of Eastern Indonesia (Mit), affiliated with the Islamic State, train and conduct attacks against civilians and local police forces. After an attack in Bali in 2002 in which mostly foreigners died, the terrorists now favor targeted attacks against the government and minorities. In November 2020 four ethnic Toraja Christian farmers were found dead. In December 2021 four more worshippers were murdered and beheaded.

Since 2016, Indonesian counterterrorism forces have conducted a series of operations against the terrorist network, neutralizing leader Abu Warda Santoso. Last year, the Densus 88 team killed his successor, Ali Kaliora.

However, Poso has been at the center of a communal clash for decades: between 1998 and 2001 Christian groups fought each other in a bloody conflict that generated hundreds of casualties and thousands of internally displaced persons. In 2002, the Malino Peace Accords (a mountain resort in South Sulawesi) ended the violence, but Muslim fundamentalist formations continue a guerrilla war against the central government.

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