JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's anti-terrorism squad killed two suspects and arrested seven others in raids on a jihadist organization with possible links to the Islamic State group, police said Monday.
National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Agus Rianto said the elite squad fatally shot two men late Sunday in the Central Sulawesi district of Poso, a mountainous area considered a hotbed of terrorism, after they resisted arrest and fired at police, injuring two officers. He said several other suspects escaped, but police managed to seize two M-16 rifles and two homemade bombs.
Five other suspects were arrested Sunday in South Sulawesi's capital, Makassar, based on information from a man who was caught Friday carrying a bag of ammunition, Rianto said. He said a seventh suspect was arrested Monday in the Central Sulawesi district of Luwuk.
Rianto said the men belong to the East Indonesia Mujahideen, led by the country's most wanted militant, Abu Wardah Santoso, who has taken responsibility for the killings of several police officers and has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
"Police had to shoot, otherwise they would have been shot," Rianto said. "Evidence we have seized shows the suspects have a link with terrorism."
Indonesia has been battling terrorists since bombings on the resort island of Bali in 2002 that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists. Police and the anti-terror unit have come under increased criticism following a number of killings during raids.
A leader of the East Indonesia Mujahideen group, Daeng Koro, is believed to have died in a shootout with anti-terror squad last month near Poso.
In recent years, terrorist attacks aimed at foreigners have been largely replaced by smaller strikes targeting the government, mainly police and anti-terrorism forces.