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 Missing villagers seen walking with Santoso in Poso forest

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BerichtOnderwerp: Missing villagers seen walking with Santoso in Poso forest   ma 4 apr 2016 - 23:15

The Jakarta Post, Mon, Apri 4 2016

Residents of a village in Poso regency, Central Sulawesi, suspect that two missing villagers had been forced by terrorist guerillas lead by Indonesia's most wanted terrorist Santoso aka Abu Wardah to work as forest guides, based on a recent sighting.

Obet Sabola and Yunus Penini of Sedoa Village in North Lore sub district were reported missing on Dec. 10, 2014, however local villagers claim to have seen them in the forest.

"When we were collecting wood resin, we saw Obet and Yunus together with Santoso," a villager who asked to remain anonymous said on Monday.

Villagers suspect the two men were kidnapped by the East Indonesia Mujahidin terrorist group to work as guides when the members had been camped in the forest near Napu Village.

Samida Penini, Obet's mother and also the older sister of Yunus, said she had been informed by villagers of Beau Village in Lore Peore sub district that there had been sightings of the two men.

"I have not met them for so long, please help them," Samida said, appealing to Operation Tinombala personnel to help her family.

Central Sulawesi Police chief Brig. Gen. Rudy Sufahriadi, whom is also Operation Tinombala chief, said his force had received the information, however he was not yet able to confirm whether Obet and Yunus were the two men seen by villagers, adding that Central Sulawesi Police would investigate the matter immediately.

Obet and Yunus were reported missing along with three other people, Harun Torimbi, Gara Tudu and Fiktor Polaba on Dec. 10 by local residents as the men had failed to return home, three days after entering the woods to hunt and collect wood resin.

Gara is alleged to have been killed by the Santoso-led terrorist group while Fiktor and Harun managed to escape. The nephew and uncle duo, Obet and Yunus, remain missing.

Harun escaped after Santoso ordered him to buy rice and other food supplies at a local village.

At least 3,000 joint Indonesian Military (TNI) and Police personnel were deployed in Poso under Operation Tinombala in January with orders to search for Santoso and his followers.

The manhunt proceeded to focus its search in Napu Valley, North Lore, Central Lore, Lore Peore and East Lore sub districts, having previously centered on Poso Pesisir and Parigi Moutong.

National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) chief Comr. Gen. Tito Karnavian said on Sunday that Santoso had felt frustration in light of such an intensive search, lack of food supplies and decreasing followers.

The group's members decreased to 29 people, from 41, after several members had been killed and or arrested in the operation.

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