JAKARTA • Militants linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have murdered four people in a remote Christian community on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, the authorities said yesterday, with one victim beheaded and another burned to death.
The group of sword-and-gun-wielding attackers ambushed Lembantongoa village in Central Sulawesi province on Friday morning, killing several residents and torching half a dozen homes, including one used for regular prayers and services, police said.
No arrests have yet been made and the motive for the attack is not immediately clear.
But the authorities pointed the finger at the Sulawesi-based East Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT), one of dozens of radical groups across the sprawling South-east Asian archipelago that have pledged allegiance to ISIS. Indonesia, the world's biggest Muslim-majority country, has long wrestled with Islamist militancy and terror attacks, while Central Sulawesi has seen intermittent violence between Christians and Muslims for decades.
"We reached the conclusion that they (the attackers) were from MIT after showing pictures of its members to relatives of the victims," said Sigi regency police chief Yoga Priyahutama. The makeshift church was empty at the time of the early morning attack by around eight militants, he added. "People were just in their homes when it happened," Mr Yoga said.
Lembantongoa village head Rifai said one victim was beheaded and another was nearly decapitated. One of the other all-male victims was stabbed while a fourth was burned to death in his home.
If confirmed to be the work of MIT, Friday's killings would be its first significant attack since the organisation's leader was killed four years ago by Indonesia's elite anti-terror squad, according to Jakarta-based terrorism expert Sidney Jones.