Indonesian police shot dead six suspected members of an Islamic militant group in the country in a gunfight on Java island on Saturday, a police spokesman said on Sunday. The authorities said seven men drove up to a traffic police post and fired shots at the officers.
East Java Police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera said after a police chase, the seven militants abandoned their vehicle in a village in the Tuban area, not far from the industrial city of Surabaya, and attempted to flee into a plantation. Six of them were killed in a second gun battle with police. The police have arrested one member of the group alive.
"When the local police swept through the area, a gunshot was heard. A gunfight took place after and six of the men died," the national police spokesman Rikwanto, who goes by one name, told AFP.
Mangera said that the police were monitoring the vehicle prior to the attack, in connection with the Friday arrest of three suspected members of the group, Jemaah Anshorut Daulah (JAD). They were allegedly planning an attack on a police station and had bought M16 machine guns from the southern Philippines.
"We tried to stop that vehicle, but the vehicle did not stop," Mangera said. He also added that those in the vehicle "took out weapons and shot at officers."
Jemaah Anshorut Daulah is an umbrella organisation that has been listed on a US State Department "terrorist" list. The group, which has been blamed for a series of recent attacks in Indonesia including one in Jakarta last January, is estimated to have drawn hundreds of ISIS sympathisers in Indonesia.
Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population and has been on high alert over a recent resurgence in radicalism inspired by the extremist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In the past 15 years, the country has suffered a series of Islamic militant attacks, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.
Following the numerous recent IS-linked plots that have been botched or foiled in the country, analysts say that many of the militants lack the capacity to launch serious attacks.