A counter terrorism campaign against extremists in Sulawesi island has led to the death of Indonesia’s most wanted militant Saturday. Ali Kalora, one of the two militants killed during a shootout with security forces, has been designated to have ties with the Islamic State (IS) group.

According to The Guardian, Central Sulawesi military chief Brig. Gen. Farid Makruf said the victory was a joint effort between the military and police officers who had scoured and outflanked the militants in the mountainous district of Parigi Moutong that borders the extremist hotbed of Poso district.

Makruf identified the other suspected militant as Jaka Ramadan. Both extremists are said to be part of the East Indonesia Mujahideen militant group claiming allegiance to IS in 2014. 

The victorious gun battle was the turning point of a two-month joint operation that intensified in an effort to capture members of the extremist network. Security forces led a pre-dawn raid in the mountainous district in search of the group’s four remaining members at large where both men were fatally shot during the encounter.

Makruf said they were unable to evacuate the bodies of Kalora and Ramadan due to the rugged terrain and darkness that enveloped the forested village of Astina. The military chief said the bodies will be airlifted by helicopter instead and subjected to further investigation. “Ali Kalora was the most wanted terrorist and leader of MIT,” the military chief said.

Kalora, who sat at the helm of the militant group, had been eluding his capture for over a decade. A good number of the group’s leaders as well as its members have mostly already been captured or killed. Kalora took over leadership from Abu Wardah Santoso after he was killed in July 2016 by security forces. 

Several killings of police officers and the Christian religious minority were claimed by the East Indonesia Mujahideen as part of their extremist campaign.

Earlier this year, the group attacked a village within the Poso district, where they killed four Christians, and even beheaded one. The attack was said to be a revenge for the killing of Santoso’s son. 

Terrorist raid at Astina village in Indonesia Indonesian police hold evidence following a terrorist raid at Astina village, Torue sub district, in Central Sulawesi on September 19, 2021 after an Indonesian terror leader linked to the Islamic State (IS) was shot dead in a shoutout with security forces, police said, putting the extremist group in a tight corner. Photo by Muhammad Rifki/AFP via Getty Images