JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Three police officers were killed in a gunfight Thursday with suspected Islamic terrorists in the Indonesian province of Central Sulawesi, police said.
The clash happened as a group of 10 to 15 gunmen ambushed police patrolling in the village of Kolora in Poso district, said national police spokesman Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar.
He said the scene is close to locations used by militants as training ground in the past.
He added that three other officers were wounded, two seriously, before the assailants fled into the jungle with one officer's gun, Amar said.
"They are being evacuated to hospital in the province's capital of Palu," Amar said. He identified all the victims as sergeants from the police's special forces unit. Nine other officers were unharmed.
One of the attackers was arrested, Amar said but he would not identify him.
He said the attackers were believed to be a group who escaped last week when police caught them preparing a location for military training.
"It is clear that they are from those who are in our list of fugitives and so far continue training activities (there)," Amar said. "They include new recruits and not all of them are Poso natives."
Security has been intensified in Poso since October, when two police officers were found dead in the region, which was a flashpoint for violence between Christians and Muslims that left more than 1,000 dead in 2001 and 2002.
Police said some members of Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid, an organization founded by convicted radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir and designated a terrorist group by the U.S. in February, were involved in October's deaths.
Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has been battling terrorists since 2002, when militants linked to the Southeast Asian network Jemaah Islamiyah began a string of attacks on Western nightclubs, restaurants and embassies that killed 202, mostly foreign tourists.
Recent terror attacks in Indonesia have been carried out by individuals or small groups and have targeted security forces and local "infidels" instead of Westerners, with less deadly results.