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Indonesia police hunt suspected militants after four killed

JAKARTA — Indonesian police were searching on Saturday for suspected militants accused of killing four people said by rights groups to be Christians, beheading one and burning down their homes.

Ten militants linked to a “terrorist” group beheaded one victim and slit the throats of the others on the island of Sulawesi on Friday, national police spokesman Awi Setiyono quoted a witness as saying.

Speaking to the news channel Metro TV, Awi did not explain the alleged attackers’ motivation. He did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, has grappled with intermittent militant attacks recently.

“This attack is another serious escalation against the Christian minority in Indonesia,” Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono told Reuters.

Gomar Gultom, the head of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, told Reuters the victims were Christian and urged the authorities to resolve the case.

International Christian Concern, a Washington-based advocacy group, posted on its website on Friday that “an alleged terrorist” killed four Christians in the Sulawesi village, burning down a Salvation Army post and Christian homes.

Awi said, “We’re on the ground now, there’s about 100 people who will start chasing.”

The investigation, led by the Indonesian police and the military, may run into hurdles as the incident took place in a hilly, remote village near the region of Sigi in Central Sulawesi province, he said. (Reporting by Nilufar Rizki and Stanley Widianto; Editing by William Mallard)

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