Indonesian police officers 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Indonesian counterterror authorities won international praise on Wednesday for killing a top-ranked Southeast Asian terrorist wanted for planning the deadly 2002 Bali bombings.
Police also revealed that bomb-making materials were found in one of two raids near Jakarta on Tuesday that killed fugitive Dulmatin and his two bodyguards.
Indonesia's Police Chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri told reporters Wednesday that the bomb was not being prepared for President Barak Obama's visit to Jakarta this month, but declined to elaborate on a potential target.
Dulmatin, a 39-year-old Indonesian trained by al-Qaida in Afghanistan who used one name, was wanted for the suicide bombings that tore through two Bali nightclubs popular with Westerners, killing 202 people in Indonesia's deadliest terrorist attack. He was also blamed for the 2004 truck bombing of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta that killed 11.
Dulmatin had been one of Southeast Asia's most-wanted fugitives and was thought to have fled to the Philippines.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono used a speech to officials in the Australian capital of Canberra on Wednesday to confirm speculation that Dulmatin was one of three suspected militants killed in two coordinated raids the day before on Jakarta's southwestern outskirts on the country's main island of Java.
"Indonesian authorities will continue to hunt them (terrorists) down and do all we can to prevent them from harming our people," Yudhoyono said in a speech in Parliament House.
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Prime Minister Kevin Rudd praised Indonesia for tracking down the alleged master bomb-maker of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian offshoot of al-Qaida. Some 88 Australians died in the Bali attacks.
"The breakthroughs that Indonesia has made in undermining various terrorist networks has been significant," Rudd told reporters.
Col. Bill Coultrup, commander of US counterterrorism forces in the southern Philippines where Dulmatin allegedly fought in recent years with the al-Qaida-linked militant group Abu Sayyaf, congratulated Indonesia on an "excellent job."
"It's a great success, but as we have seen in Iraq, in Afghanistan and other places, you may remove one leader, but there may be someone who will step up to take his place," Coultrup told The Associated Press.
Philippine marines commander Maj. Gen. Juancho Sabban, who for years has led US-backed offensives that have killed and captured several Abu Sayyaf leaders, said Dulmatin's death had made the region safer.
Sabban took credit for driving Dulmatin and his followers from the Philippines.
"It's good Indonesia got him. It proved that our operations are effective and we were able to drive him away and that's what we wanted to do," Sabban told the AP.
Sidney Jones, Jakarta-based senior adviser for the International Crisis Group think tank, questioned how many other Indonesian members of Abu Sayyaf had left the Philippines undetected.
"His death and the fact that he came back without anyone detecting it will place the whole area between the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia under an increased level of monitoring because there are some seriously dangerous people who we thought were still in" the Philippines, Jones said.
Eliminating Dulmatin will be seen as a major achievement for Indonesian security forces ahead of Obama's first visit to the country March 20-22. Terrorism in the region will be a major focus of talks.
It was not immediately clear if anyone is eligible for a $10 million reward offered by the US government for Dulmatin's capture.
raids were part of a police crackdown on a suspected Jemaah Islamiyah
cell that recently established a paramilitary training camp in the
western province of Aceh. Police said they were based on information
from about 20 militants captured from Aceh and Java.
Danuri said Dulmatin's identity had been confirmed with DNA tests.
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