Islamic State-linked extremists have killed four farmers in a remote village on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, police confirmed on Wednesday, with at least one of the victims reportedly beheaded.
Five sword-wielding attackers ambushed a group of farmers harvesting coffee in Kalimago village in Poso regency on Tuesday morning, Central Sulawesi police spokesman Didik Supranoto said.
The police blamed the attack on the Sulawesi-based East Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT), one of dozens of radical groups across the archipelago that have pledged allegiance to IS.
“Five eyewitnesses recognised one of the perpetrators as a local member of MIT,” the police spokesman said. “Everything the victims had was taken away by the perpetrators including rice, money and other personal belongings they kept in their huts.”
The attack was motivated by “terrorism as well as robbery”, according to the police.
Local media reported that the victims were from the Christian-majority Toraja ethnic group.
Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation, has long wrestled with Islamist militancy and terror attacks.
Central Sulawesi has seen intermittent violence between Christians and Muslims for decades.
In November last year, MIT militants attacked a Christian community in Poso, killing four with one victim beheaded and another burned to death. The group also torched half a dozen homes, including one used for regular prayers and services.
Indonesia’s Christians have been targeted in the past, including in 2018 when IS-linked group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah carried out a wave of suicide bombings by families – including young children – at churches in the country’s second-biggest city Surabaya, killing a dozen congregants.
In late March this year, two newlywed suicide bombers blew themselves up at a church in Makassar on Sulawesi island, wounding 20 congregants and bystander.