PALU, Indonesia - With the likely death of one of its main leaders, the Santoso terrorist group in Central Sulawesi has been weakened, according to acting National Police chief Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti.
He said the group's coleader, Daeng Koro alias Sabar Subagyo, was more dangerous than Santoso and his death reduced the terrorist group's power.
"He was a former member of the military in Makassar. He understood strategy and the use of weapons better," he said at the Central Sulawesi police headquarters late Saturday.
Badrodin said the death of Daeng Koro had caused distress for Santoso and his men, who were still at large and being hunted by police.
They were believed to have been scattered after a raid by the National Police's counterterrorism squad, Densus 88, and the Central Sulawesi police's Mobile Brigade (Brimob) in Mount Pangi, Sakina Jaya subdistrict, Parigi Moutong regency, on Friday.
Much of the group's equipment, including communication devices, guns and ammunition, has also been seized by the police.
According to Badrodin, the Santoso and Daeng Koro groups were two separate terrorist groups, but both were under the same fighter group that had been terrorising Poso and was believed to be affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) movement.
The group led by Daeng Koro had between 10 and 15 men, while the one under Santoso's leadership had about 20.
"I call on the rest of the armed civilians to surrender," Badrodin said.
Daeng Koro is believed to have been killed after being shot in the head, chest and leg during the raid.
As of Sunday evening, the identity of the body had not been confirmed by the police, who were awaiting the results of a DNA test.
The wanted terrorist, who was also known as Mas Koro or Abdul Salam, was one of the leaders of the East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT) in Poso, alongside fellow terrorist suspect Santoso, and had been on the force's most-wanted list since 2013.
The police said he had been involved in numerous terrorist activities, including providing training for militant groups in the Morowali and Poso regencies in Central Sulawesi.
Koro's wife Nurjannah and his child were taken to the Central Sulawesi Police Bhayangkara Hospital in Palu to aid in the identification of the body.
"Nurjannah confirmed that [the dead body] was Daeng Koro, her husband," Central Sulawesi Police Chief Brig. Gen. Idham Azis told reporters at the hospital on Sunday.
Despite the confirmation, Idham said that a DNA test would still be conducted.
The police have taken the hair and saliva of Daeng Koro's child for matching.
He said that only after the DNA test had been conducted would Daeng Koro's body be handed over to his family for a funeral in Malino subdistrict, Soyo Jaya, North Morowali.
If local residents refused to host the funeral, the body would be buried in Palu, he said.
With regard to the latest situation in Poso and Parigi Moutong, Idham said the people were not affected by the situation.
Some residents, he said, even joined the police to hunt the remaining members of the Santoso and Daeng Koro terrorist groups.
Another gunfight occurred at the Kilometer 16 area in Kebun Kopi, Parigi Moutong, on Saturday.
A member of the terrorist group identified as Imam alias Farid, who was also on the police's most-wanted list, died after being shot in the chest by police.
The gunfire occurred after the police received a report from a local about a suspicious man hiding in a farmer's field hut.
"He said he was looking for a job, but we did not believe him. His behaviour was suspicious so we reported him to the police," said Rizal, a local resident.