A member of the National Police's Mobile Brigade (Brimob), First Pvt. Saiful, died on Friday in a suspected terrorist attack after Friday mass prayer at a mosque in Salubanga village in Parigi Moutong, Central Sulawesi.
A group of civilians, identified as members of the East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT), attacked members of the police and civilians who were just completing the prayer around midday.
Aside from firing off gunshots, the group also held hostage several civilians, before escaping the scene.
"We can assure that the perpetrators were part of the East Indonesia Mujahidin terrorist group," Central Sulawesi Police chief Insp. Gen. Lukman Wahyu Hariyanto said, adding that his team was currently investigating the incident.
The police chief led a ceremony to pay homage to Saiful in the police headquarters on Saturday morning. Saiful's body was then transported to be buried in his hometown in Pandeglang, Banten.
With the incident, the police have vowed to catch the last remaining member of MIT, who has reportedly been moving around the forests of Parigi Moutong, Poso, Sausu and Torue, spreading terror among citizens.
Some five months ago, the bodies of local residents — Tamar, 50, and Patmar, 27 — were found mutilated around the location of the attack against Saiful. The father and son are believed to have been murdered by the terrorist group.
In December 2018, a miner was also found dead and his body was mutilated in Salubanga.
After former MIT leader Santoso, aka Abu Wardah, was killed in July 2016, it was reported that the group had only seven remaining members, including its now leader Ali Kalora.
But the police said the group might have recruited new members and grown in number, reaching 14 earlier this year.
The country's police and military formed Tinombala, a joint security operation to hunt down MIT members, in January 2016. The operation has been extended several times, and the current operation is expected to end this month. (vny)