Your prayers are needed after four men were tragically murdered in an attack on a village in Indonesia by a group with links to so-called Islamic State. Warning – this article includes pictures and content which you may find distressing.
Your prayers are an enormous support to this grieving community
Four Christian men have been murdered in a horrific attack on a village on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on Friday 27 November. Six houses, including a makeshift church, and a Salvation Army building were also burnt to the ground. A group with links to so-called Islamic State are believed to be responsible.
At around 8am, a group of between eight and 10 men from East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT) raided the village of Lemban Tongoa. They were armed with swords and guns and called residents out of their homes. Individuals were then singled out and killed. A father and his son were burnt alive, and a father and his son-in-law beheaded. They were part of the same family and involved in The Salvation Army.
Srikandi lost her husband and father, as well as her uncle and cousin. After witnessing her father being killed in their home, she grabbed her children and fled.
“From where I was, I couldn't see my husband,” she recalls. “I immediately started running with my children. My mother ran into the house. I tried to stop her, but she was already captured. I said to my children: ‘That's it! It's just us now! Let's go!’ And so we ran.”
They managed to escape to safety. Thankfully, Srikandi's mother survived.
“We find the news from Lemban Tongoa greatly disturbing,” said General Brian Peddle, leader of The Salvation Army which has a base on the island.
“Our hearts go out to our people who have been victims of evil, and to the families of those whose faith has caused such harm,” he added. “I call upon all Salvationists to pray for each person who has been affected, for the continuing witness of our people, and for healing in the communities. I ask our global community to join us in this prayer, and believe that as peace finds its place, evil will be defeated.”
"I see sadness in the eyes of the villagers" Open Doors partner
The authorities, who have evacuated the village, have not been able to catch the attackers. East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT) are one of several groups in Indonesia linked to so-called Islamic State. Since their leader was killed four years ago, the group haven’t carried out any attacks. But last Friday’s attack suggests they remain active.
Open Doors partners have arrived in the area to offer comfort and support. “I see sadness in the eyes of the villagers,” one partner reports. “There is a lot of emptiness in the face of Srikandi whose father and husband were killed. However, when they saw us, the villagers smiled.”
There is concern over the impact the attack had on children. "They are really traumatised," another partner shared. One little 'hyperactive' boy has barely spoken a word since he witnessed the loss of his father. “We need to help them overcome this trauma.”
The attack comes shortly after five Christians from a church in Papua, Indonesia’s easternmost province, were found dead.
In September, Pastor Yeremia was found dead. Some two months later, on 20 November, two students were shot in a jungle; one was killed, and the other wounded. A couple of days later, the bodies of three Christians were found in the same location, including a 13-year-old; they were returning home for Christmas.
The area is plagued by conflict between the TNI (Indonesian army) and armed groups. It is believed the TNI is responsible for the deaths, despite the victims not being involved in criminal groups.
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