Special forces raided a hide-out Thursday and killed militant mastermind Noordin Muhammed Top, striking at the heart of the terrorist network behind a deadly campaign of suicide attacks in Indonesia, including the Bali nightclub bombings.
In this combination file photo released by the Indonesian National police, Malaysian terror suspect Noordin Muhammed Top is seen, more recently in photo at right.
It was the latest success against terror figures worldwide, starting with a US missile that took out a key Taliban commander in Pakistan last month.
Besides knocking out Southeast Asia's most-wanted man, Thursday's operation also netted a fugitive bombmaker believed to have designed explosives for twin suicide bombings at luxury hotels in Jakarta in July.
A cunning and charismatic figure, Noordin had eluded capture for more than seven years. He was tracked down at a house in the city of Solo in central Java, a breeding ground for militant Islam, where an overnight siege and hours-long gunfight ended at dawn with an explosion.
The bodies of four suspects were recovered from the burned-out house, including Noordin and an alleged explosives expert, Bagus Budi Pranato, believed to have manufactured the bombs used by suicide attackers in the July 17 attacks on the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels that killed seven and wounded more than 50.