Four Christian men were beheaded in a horrific terror attack in Indonesia on Tuesday, Open Doors reports.
The attack occurred in Kalimago Village, Poso Regency in Central Sulawesi, and has been blamed on Islamist extremists belonging to the terrorist group, East Indonesia Mujahidin.
Two victims were members of the Mamasa Toraja Church. Another came from Toraja Church and one from a Catholic Church in the area.
They were aged between 42 and 61.
Their murders come just half a year after four other Christians were killed at a Salvation Army outpost in Sigi, Central Sulawesi.
Open Doors’ local partner in Indonesia Ari Hartono — whose name has been changed for security reasons — said, “Central Sulawesi locals are still traumatized from the terrorist attack in Sigi last November and have not recovered yet. We’re not sure if the attack is religiously motivated even though the victims are Christians.”
“It could be an act of survival. After the Sigi incident, the terrorists in Central Sulawesi have been increasingly pressed by the police and the Army,” he added. “Their logistics is exhausted. The only way to survive is to rob people of food. In this area, there are many farmers who live in the forest far from the village and they were the ones targeted by the terrorists.”
Indonesia is ranked No. 47 on Open Doors’ World Watch List, an annual ranking of the 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution.
Ari is asking Christians to pray for the peace of God in the area.
“Fear and intimidation are trying to take over people’s hearts, but God’s power is more powerful,” he said.
“Pray for protection over God’s people in Poso and Central Sulawesi. As long as these terrorists are not caught, the threat lingers.
“People are afraid to go to their field, therefore they cannot work and produce crops. This will affect their economic situation. The Madago Raya Task Force are hunting this terrorist group. We pray for their protection, strength and wisdom to do their job, and pray that they will catch these perpetrators.”
Christians have been targeted in parts of Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, in recent years.
In Makassar, South Sulawesi, 20 worshipers were injured in a suicide bomb attack as they left a Palm Sunday church service marking the start of Holy Week.
Dozens were killed in a church suicide attack in Surabaya, East Java, in 2018.