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Indonesian anti-terror squad criticized for deaths

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 6, 2013 at 6:37 pm •  Published: January 6, 2013

Since the squad's establishment, Densus officers have killed more than 70 suspects. Like in other countries, some Indonesian militants have blown themselves up when police officers have approached them and show a willingness to go down fighting, making apprehending them especially dangerous. Police figures show that militants killed 10 officers in 2012 around the country.

"They are different to conventional criminals," Amar said. "We can't take any risks because they will show no hesitation to kill law enforcers."

Taufik Andrie, research director for the Institute for International Peace Building, said it appeared that police officers hunting down militants suspected of being involved in the murder of their colleagues were not interested in taking prisoners.

"It is a cycle of violence, with each side looking for revenge," Andrie said. "There is a suspicion that some policemen are of the mind that the best kind of de-radicalization is through killing people."

Indonesia has won praise for arresting and convicting terrorists through its legal system. It executed three militants convicted in the Bali bombings and sentenced many others to long prison sentences. But there has been a high level of recidivism, and the country's counter-extremism and de-radicalization programs have been patchily carried out with limited success.

The way in which the killings by Densus 88 are used to rally support for extremism was on display Sunday at a public meeting of radicals in Jakarta, Indonesia's capital. While those present didn't need fresh reasons to despise or distrust the state, speakers held up the killings of the seven suspects as just the latest example of police brutality.

"Oh, Allah, they have killed your servants, so destroy them," said Son Hadi, from Jama'ah Ansharut Tauhid, a radical group whose members have been accused of supporting terrorism but remain free to organize. "Beware of this war on Islam."