Indonesian believers are concerned by a number of attacks in recent months, reports Release’s Stephen McIlroy.
In November 2020, a militant group attacked half a dozen homes in Lembantongoa village in Central Sulawesi. The mob were said to have used swords and guns to kill six Christians, believed to be members of the Salvation Army. The authorities blamed the attack on Sulawesi-based East Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT), one of the Islamist groups that have pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS).
Village head Rifai told the AFP news agency that one victim had been beheaded. Some villagers who managed to hide in the forest have returned, while others are trying to resettle in different locations.
According to witnesses, the perpetrators had asked for food from the victims – who were attacked when they refused. The Salvation Army in Indonesia condemned the violence as ‘an inhuman act’. Such attacks are nothing new for Indonesian Christians. In 2018, an IS- linked group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah staged a wave of suicide bombings by families – including young children – at churches in the country’s second- largest city, Surabaya, killing a dozen believers.
More recently, at the end of March 2021, suicide bombers attacked a church in Makassar, South Sulawesi, which was celebrating Palm Sunday. It is believed that a young, newly-wed couple rode up to the building on a motorcycle and attempted to gain entry. After being challenged by guards, they detonated a pressure-cooker type bomb, filled with high explosive and nails, which killed them and wounded around 20 others.
Had the attackers managed to get into the main entrance of the church, many more could have been injured or killed, according to the mayor of Makassar.
The Indonesian authorities believe that the perpetrators were members of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah (JAD), which is also affiliated to IS. This same group was responsible for attacks on a coffee shop in 2016 and on churches and a police station in 2018.
A further four Christian men, aged between 52 and 61 years old, were killed in Sigi village, Central Sulawesi, in May. The victims were working in their coffee plantation 4km away from their village. It is believed that they were attacked by five terrorists; one of the farmers was beheaded, and the others stabbed. Three of the farmers came from local Protestant churches while the fourth was a member of a Catholic church.
- Please pray that these attacks by terrorists will stop and pray for protection for all Christians in Indonesia. Pray too for all the families who have suffered loss in recent months.
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