Jakarta – The National Police have announced a plan to extend the joint police-Indonesian Military (TNI) Operation Tinombala, as it has not captured 14 terrorists at large in Central Sulawesi.
"The [extended] operation will run for 94 days, from June 29 to Sept. 30 [this year]," National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Awi Setiyono said on Monday as quoted by kompas.com.
The decision was inked in a police letter issued on Friday. Awi said the extension was made to create a safe and conducive situation in the province.
It was the third time this year for the special task force to experience an extension of duty. "The first term ran from Jan. 1 to March. 31," Awi said. The operation was then extended until June 28.
The fugitives are linked to the East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT), a terrorist group now led by Ali Kalora. The group is reportedly responsible for several terrorist attacks in Poso regency, such as an attack on two police officers who were on duty at a Poso bank on April 15.
Operation Tinombala has been in the spotlight because its members were allegedly involved in the shooting of two civilians in Poso earlier this month.
Witness accounts said the civilians were shot by a group of armed people that claimed to be officers from the task force who were on the hunt for terrorists, kompas.com reported.
The National Police have confirmed the incident but refuse to disclose further details.
Operation Tinombala personnel, along with the Central Sulawesi and Poso Police, have been examining the forest where the incident took place, police said.As reported by tribunnews.com, the shooting occurred within an area covered by the operation in the region.
The two victims have been identified as Syarifuddin, 37, and Firman, 18, both of whom were residents of Poso Pesisir Utara district.
Syarifuddin sustained a gunshot wound to his chest and was dead when locals found him, whereas Firman died from a similar injury to his neck while he was being taken to a nearby village.
Initiated in January 2016 to hunt down then-MIT leader Santoso and his supporters, Operation Tinombala has been extended several times. The operation is itself an extension of 2015's Operation Camar Maleo.
Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, a retired military general who was the coordinating legal, political and security affairs minister in 2016, said at the time, "No one knows how long the operation will last. We are going to continue to hunt [them down]." (asp)