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Policeman, militant killed in Indonesia shootout

A police officer and a suspected Islamic militant were killed on Thursday in a shootout in an area of central Indonesia known as a terror hotbed, an official said.

JAKARTA: A police officer and a suspected Islamic militant were killed on Thursday in a shootout in an area of central Indonesia known as a terror hotbed, an official said.

The gunbattle between an elite police unit and an armed group took place at a militant training camp near Poso on Sulawesi island, local police spokesman Soemarno told AFP.

The jungles around Poso are one of the few areas in Indonesia where militants still have a strong presence after a decade-long campaign by authorities succeeded in weakening major Islamic extremist networks.

"One police officer died. We arrested one member of the armed group and shot dead another," said Soemarno, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, adding officers were hunting other members of the group.

A police source told AFP the men were suspected of being part of an Islamic group headed by Santoso, Indonesia's most wanted militant, that has conducted a series of attacks in the area.

Police also seized firearms and a bomb, the source said.

As well as being a militant hotbed, Poso was the site of sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians between the late 1990s and mid-2000s that left thousands dead.

Police in 2012 carried out a series of raids against militants around Poso, shooting dead or arresting a string of terror suspects.

Indonesia has waged a crackdown on terror groups over the past decade following attacks against Western targets, including the 2002 Bali bombings - a campaign that has been credited with weakening key networks.

Recent attacks have tended to be low-impact and targeting Indonesian security forces.

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