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Indonesian forces capture or kill some 40 suspected Islamic militants.
JARKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian counterterrorism forces are engaged in a widespread manhunt ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s upcoming two-day visit, a nationwide sweep that has so far netted or killed almost 40 suspected Islamic militants.
In the latest raids, police killed two men and arrested eight others after a shootout at a security checkpoint on Friday in the westernmost province of Aceh. Two other men were arrested in Central Java on Thursday.
The exhaustive search, which has entered its third week, appears aimed at securing the country before a visit by Obama and his family, analysts said.
“These raids are the most widespread and intensive I have seen,” said Noor Huda Ismail, an expert on Indonesian terrorist groups and director of the Institute for International Peace Building, a Jakarta-based think tank. “They are taking no chances.”
Although Obama plans to unveil a comprehensive partnership between the two countries as well as build on the message to the Muslim world he began in Cairo last year, his visit is also partly a homecoming.
Obama spent four years living in Jakarta as a boy with his American mother and Indonesian stepfather. The president plans to visit his former school, his old neighborhood in central Jakarta and the resort island of Bali.
The nationwide pursuit of Islamic militants began after police discovered and subsequently stormed a terrorist training camp on Feb. 22 in the dense forest of Aceh, where police found dozens of men honing their skills as sharp-shooters and taking part in other military-style training. Police there found assault rifles, Jihadist books and videos detailing the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people.
Information garnered from the Aceh raids led police to the outskirts of Jakarta on Tuesday where they shot and killed one of the region’s most-wanted terrorists. Police believe that Dulmatin, a master bomb-maker and expert in electronics, set and triggered one of the 2002 Bali bombs.
Inside the Jakarta house where police killed Dulmatin, investigators said they confiscated three remote bomb detonators, pamphlets detailing bomb-making techniques, guns and ammunition.
Indonesia’s Police Chief Bambang Hendarso Danuri said that no evidence had been found that indicated a planned attack during Obama’s trip, but that security risks did exist.
“The raids are not over yet,” he told reporters on Wednesday.