Indonesia attacks: Army hunts suspected militants over Christian murders

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The Indonesian army has deployed a special force to hunt for suspected Islamic State-linked militants behind a deadly attack on Christians.

Four Salvation Army members were killed – one of them beheaded – in an ambush on Sulawesi island on Friday.

Intolerance against Indonesia’s Christian minority has been rising as the Muslim-majority country battles an ongoing Islamic militancy.

A church body denounced the killings as terrorism rather than a religious feud.

A group of men wielding swords and guns attacked a Salvation Army outpost in remote Lemban Tongoa village in Central Sulawesi province on Friday morning.

They killed four of its male Christian members – beheading one victim – and burned down homes, including one used for prayers, the village leader and police told AFP news agency.

Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation, has long grappled with terror attacks, while Central Sulawesi has seen sporadic violence between Christians and Muslims over the years.

On Tuesday the Indonesian military deployed a special force to join police in the hunt for last week’s attackers who authorities suspect come from the East Indonesian Mujahideen (MIT).

The MIT is one of dozens of groups across Indonesia that have pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State (IS).