A farmer in Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi province was found dead with his throat slit as a video surfaced of a similar killing earlier this month, police said Monday, adding they suspected that a militant group linked to the Islamic State (IS) killed both men.
Ambo Ajeng (also known as Papa Angga) was attacked on Sunday by a group of armed men believed to be members of Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT), while he was working at his farm in Poso regency, provincial police spokesman Didik Supranoto said.
The attack occurred four days after police killed two suspected MIT militants who had shot and wounded an officer outside a Poso bank.
“Before being killed, the victim was taken by a group of people carrying machetes and firearms. Apparently there were more than five MIT members,” Didik told BenarNews.
The group fired three shots at nearby farmers but no one was hurt, Didik said.
“We are still investigating MIT’s motive for killing Papa Angga. What is known from previous cases is MIT killed locals, especially farmers, because they were accused of helping police,” Didik said.
According to Inspector Gen. Syafril Nursal, the provincial police chief, the victim was not a police informant.
“The farmer was not an auxiliary to the authorities in Poso, nor did he assist police. This cannot be tolerated and must be dealt with firmly,” Syafril said in a statement.
He said he had ordered members of the Tinombala task force, a joint police-army operation established in January 2016 to capture or kill MIT militants, to pursue the perpetrators.
“We do not want MIT to create chaos in the community. I also urge people to unite to against terrorism in Poso regency,” he said.
Meanwhile, investigators on Saturday discovered a video that has circulated online showing a man believed to be MIT leader Ali Kalora urging militants and supporters to attack security forces.
“Taghut [tyrants] will fall because of the coronavirus and the war in the near future,” the man in the video said. He warned people who help police that they would be killed.
“We will cut your necks, by God, if you don’t repent soon, God willing,” he said, according to the video seen by BenarNews.
The video shows the beheading of a man believed to be a farmer who was found dead earlier this month on a plantation in Poso Pesisir Utara.
“We are still investigating how the video could be spread. Because it is impossible for them to upload from the jungle, there must be someone who uploaded it in the village,” Poso police chief Adjunct Senior Commissioner Darno said.
He confirmed the video was made recently and the victim was identified as farmer Daeng Tapo.
Tapo was reported missing on April 4 after he was believed to have been kidnapped by MIT militants.
“The group is intentionally spreading fear with the video. That’s why we urge the public to remain calm and not respond to the video,” Darno said.
Meanwhile, the director of the Institute for Human Rights Studies and Development (LPS-HAM) in Central Sulawesi, Mohammad Affandi Zarkasi said claims that people had been killed by MIT for helping police must be investigated.
“How did the group know that the people they killed were police auxiliaries? Do they have informants that tip them off?” he told BenarNews.
Affandi said the Tinombala task force should not only focus on hunting MIT fighters, but also look for sympathizers who are in contact with the group.
“I suspect there are many MIT sympathizers in the villages who are not detected by the task force,” he said.
On April 15, police in Poso shot and killed two suspected MIT members who had wounded a police officer outside a bank.
Footage from a surveillance camera showed one of the men pointing a gun at the officer as he parked his motorcycle in front of the bank. The officer put up a fight, but one of the attackers shot him in the chest, while the other tried to seize his weapon.
Police chased the attackers who escaped on a motorbike and killed them in an ensuing gun battle, Didik said at the time.
Indonesia, The world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has been hit by a string of terrorist attacks in the past two decades, with more recent strikes being blamed on IS-affiliated militants.