Suspected Islamic militants have murdered four Christians in a remote Indonesian village. The killers beheaded one of the believers and slit the throats of the three others, before burning down all of their homes. The murder took place on the island of Sulawesi, and the victims were all members of the Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army has called for prayer “for the family of the victims, for the church, and for the peace of the region".
"We would like to express our sorrow and condolences to the deceased’s families and members of the congregation who were affected,” they added, calling the attack an "inhuman act".
Authorities have blamed Sulawesi-based East Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT), a terror group that have pledged allegiance to ISIL (ISIS).
The president of the Protestant Christian Synod (PGI), Rev Gumar Gultom, demanded that a full-scale investigation be opened into the killings and lamented the fact that several chapels had been burnt down prior to the killings - the police dispute this, insisting that no churches were attacked during the rampage.
"In the face of fresh violence, I urge Indonesian security forces to eliminate the remaining terrorist fighters, who are still wanted in Sigi and Poso," said Rev Gultom. "The presence of the security forces is urgently needed to reassure locals and the country.” Gultom highlighted previous attacks in the region, noting that "this fresh violence reminds us of the sporadic violence of the past that took place in the same area of Sulawesi". In 2005, three Christian schoolgirls were beheaded by Muslim extremists.
In comments made to Reuters, Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono said the attack was "another serious escalation against the Christian minority in Indonesia".
The Salvation Army confirmed that one of their churches "was burned down along with six homes of members".
"We find the news from Lembantongoa greatly disturbing," said General Brian Peddle, international leader of The Salvation Army. "Our hearts go out to our people who have been victims of evil, and to the families of those whose faith have caused such harm.
"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.
"As General, I assure our people in Indonesia of our deep love and prayers."
Witnesses say the attackers asked the Christians for food, before murdering them. The victims are reported to be a couple, their daughter and her husband. Police say their bodies were discovered on Friday morning. Many locals who witnessed the appalling murder fled into the surrounding forests for their own safety.