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12/28/2019 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – Indonesia recently arrests eight suspected pro-Islamic State militants in Indonesia’s peripheral Papua province, which shows that extremists are now exploring new hideouts and locations for paramilitary training away from their usual bases on Sumatra and Java islands, according to counter-terrorism officials and analysts.

Given the distance between Papua and Jakarta, 2,300 miles apart from each other, it is seen as a “safe place” to avoid detection as the police’s special counter-terrorism squad, Densus 88, conducts operations mostly in other parts of the country.

A source in Densus 88 told BenarNews, the idea to search in Papua for potential hideouts and training sites was conceived by a Sumatra-based cell belonging to Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a pro-Islamic State (IS) group that authorities have blamed for most terrorist attacks in Indonesia, some against churches, since 2016.

“The idea to scout out locations for training in Papua came from the head of JAD Lampung named Solihin. He felt that Papua would be safe as it has yet to be touched by Densus all this while,” the source said.

Solihin was arrested last March, and eight other suspects were taken into custody earlier this month, before they could find a location for their training.

Yet their presence in the predominantly Christian Papua signifies that the group is still active and expanding its territory, which is of great concern to the Indonesian anti-terrorism agencies.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].