Indonesian police kill suspected militant resisting arrest
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Members of Indonesia’s elite counterterrorism police squad shot and killed a doctor resisting arrest who was allegedly connected to the banned Jemaah Islamiyah militant group, which has been blamed for a string of past bombings, police said Friday.
The man, who was identified by his single name, Sunardi, 53, tried to ram the officers who blocked his pickup truck on Wednesday on a street in Central Java’s Sukoharjo district, leading two of the officers to jump into the truck’s cargo bed, said National Police spokesperson Ahmad Ramadhan.
The suspect ignored police warnings to stop the truck and kept driving at high speeds in a swerving pattern in an apparent attempt to throw the two officers from the truck. He hit a nearby vehicle and police opened fire at him, Ramadhan said.
“What our officers have done is in accordance with the procedures and measures,” Ramadhan said. “The suspect caused a situation that threatened the lives of the officers and the public.”
The slain suspect, who was on his way home from an Islamic boarding school in Sukoharjo, where he also operated a medical practice, was shot in the back and hip and rushed to a police hospital in the nearby city of Solo but died on the way, Ramadhan said. The two officers chasing the suspect were injured and hospitalized at the same facility.
The suspect was believed to be a key member of the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah network, which was behind the 2002 bombings on the tourist island of Bali that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, and other attacks, Ramadhan said.
He was a deputy leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, Ramadhan said, without mentioning whether Sunardi played a role in any attack in Indonesia. Sunardi was also accused of recruiting and providing assistance and funds to several Indonesian militants who traveled to the Middle East to join militant groups there affiliated with al-Qaida, Ramadhan said.
An Indonesian court banned Jemaah Islamiyah in 2008, and a sustained crackdown by security forces with support from the U.S. and Australia helped weaken the militant network.
Militant attacks on foreigners in Indonesia have largely been replaced in recent years by smaller, less deadly strikes targeting the government, mainly police and security forces, inspired by Islamic State group tactics abroad.
Indonesia’s police counterterrorism unit, known as Densus 88, has arrested more than 500 suspected Jemaah Islamiyah members in the past two years, including a member of the Indonesia Ulema Council, the country’s highest Islamic body, who was arrested in November 2021. Authorities estimate the group has more than 6,000 members.
Indonesian police have been criticized for shooting suspects rather than trying to arrest them. Authorities say they are forced to defend themselves.