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3 more suspected militants killed in central Indonesia

March 18, 2016

PALU, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian security forces have killed three more suspected militants linked to the country’s most wanted Islamic radical, police said Friday.

Central Sulawesi police chief Brig. Gen. Rudy Sufahriadi said two men were fatally shot in a clash Wednesday near Siliwanga village in Poso district. He said a body believed to be another militant killed in an earlier clash was also discovered in a river.

The deaths brought to five the number militants killed this week as security forces including elite army troops intensify their operations in Sulawesi against Indonesia’s most wanted militant, Abu Wardah Santoso, who leads the East Indonesia Mujahidin network that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.

Earlier this week, police killed two suspected Chinese Uighur militants who were also believed to be linked to the group, which is thought to be hiding in Poso, a mountainous district considered Indonesia’s terrorist hotbed. Police believe four other foreigners are still with the group.

Authorities believe some ethnic minority Uighurs have entered Indonesia to join forces with local militants at the urging of Santoso, who has claimed responsibility for the killings of several police officers.

Last July, an Indonesian court sentenced four Uighurs, arrested in September 2014 in Central Sulawesi, to six years in prison for conspiring with militants from Santoso’s network. Another suspected Uighur militant who was allegedly preparing to be a suicide bomber was arrested in December near Jakarta, the capital.

Sufahriadi said security forces are guarding some areas of Poso to try to prevent members of the network from escaping.

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