Manhunt underway after female priest raped and killed, 9-year-old companion left for dead in South Sumatra

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Police are searching for two individuals suspected of being involved in the killing of a 24-year-old female priest, identified only as MZ, in Air Sugihan district, Ogan Komering Ilir regency, South Sumatra.

Ogan Komering Ilir Police chief Adjutant Senior Commander Doni Eka Saputra said the reverend was murdered after reportedly being raped in an oil palm plantation.

He said the crime apparently occurred one day before the body was found by locals on Tuesday morning (March 26).

"MZ was allegedly raped before she was killed. She was found by the locals with no pants and shirt open," Adj Sr Comm Doni told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

He said that MZ, a pastoral candidate at the Indonesian Evangelical Christian Church (GKII), went shopping with a nine-year-old girl, identified as NP, at a local market, departing from the church by motorcycle on Monday.

On the ride back to the church in the afternoon, they were allegedly intercepted by two individuals who had covered their faces with masks and sarongs.

Adj Sr Comm Doni said both MZ and NP were taken to the plantation area, where they were tied up with tyre rubber and strangled.

NP survived the incident apparently because she had fainted and was thrown into bushes.

Mr Arisman Manai, another pastoral candidate at the GKII church, said that he and other members of the church tried to discover MZ and NP's whereabouts after they grew worried when the woman and the girl did not come back from the market by nightfall.

Mr Arisman said the people later found out what had happened when NP returned to the church on Monday night alone in blind panic and fear, revealing that they had been kidnapped by strangers.

The people immediately looked for MZ at the location the girl indicated, and found that the woman had already died.

After undergoing a post-mortem examination at the local police hospital, the victim's remains were sent back to her hometown in Nias, North Sumatra.

"We hope the police would investigate this case thoroughly. We are now taking care of NP, as she is in trauma following the incident," Mr Arisman said.