JAKARTA: Indonesian security forces have shot dead a suspected Uighur radical, an official said on Thursday, the latest member of the mostly Muslim Chinese minority killed fighting with militants in the archipelago.
Police said the man, who died in a shootout on a mountainside Wednesday, was the last of a handful of Uighurs who had joined extremist group the Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen on central Sulawesi island.
Several members of the minority, who allege decades of religious and political repression in China, had already been shot dead by security forces while four others were caught on the island as they sought to join the group.
The group’s leader Santoso was killed in a firefight with troops last month, ending a years-long hunt for the Muslim-majority country’s most wanted militant and best known Islamic State (IS) group supporter.
National police chief Tito Karnavian announced the latest death Thursday, saying the militant “was killed in a shootout and we found an M16 (rifle) on him”.
Another suspected militant escaped, he said.
Indonesian militants fighting with IS in Syria are believed to have plotted with extremist networks back home to send Uighurs in Southeast Asia to Indonesia to join up with Santoso, according to analysts.
Santoso, whose group was known for launching attacks on domestic security forces from jungle bases around the city of Poso, was killed after authorities sent thousands of police and soldiers to track him down in a major operation.
Authorities are now hunting the remnants of his group, with just 14 members still believed to remain.
Indonesia suffered a string of Islamic extremist attacks in the early 2000s, including the 2002 Bali bombings which killed more than 200, prompting authorities to launch a crackdown that weakened the most dangerous networks.
However IS has proved a potent new rallying cry for the country’s radicals, and analysts believe cells linked to the jihadists pose a greater threat than Santoso’s dwindling band of militants.