Daesh-linked militants kill four Christians in Indonesia: police

The attack happened in Sulawesi. (File/AFP)
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Updated 28 November 2020

Daesh-linked militants kill four Christians in Indonesia: police

  • The group of sword-and-gun wielding attackers ambushed Lembantongoa village in Central Sulawesi province Friday morning

PALU, Indonesia: Daesh-linked extremists killed four people in a remote Christian community on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, authorities said Saturday, with one victim beheaded and another burned to death.
The group of sword-and-gun wielding attackers ambushed Lembantongoa village in Central Sulawesi province Friday morning, killing several residents and torching half a dozen homes, including one used for regular prayers and services, police said.
No arrests had yet been made and the motive for the attack was not immediately clear.
But authorities pointed the finger at the Sulawesi-based East Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT), one of dozens of radical groups across the Southeast Asian archipelago that have pledged allegiance to Daesh.
Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim majority nation, has long wrestled with Islamist militancy and terror attacks, while Central Sulawesi has seen intermittent violence between Christians and Muslims for decades.
“We reached the conclusion that they (the attackers) were from MIT after showing pictures of its members to relatives of the victims” who witnessed the ambush, said Sigi Regency police chief Yoga Priyahutama.
The makeshift church was empty at the time of the early morning attack by around eight militants, he added.
“People were just in their homes when it happened,” Priyahutama said.
Lembantongoa village head Rifai, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, said one victim was beheaded and another was nearly decapitated.
One of the other all-male victims was stabbed while a fourth was burned to death in his home, he added.
“Some residents managed to escape, but the victims didn’t make it,” Rifai told AFP.
Indonesia’s Christians have been targeted in the past, including in 2018 when IS-linked group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah staged a wave of suicide bombings by families — including young children — at churches in the country’s second-biggest city Surabaya, killing a dozen congregants.
If confirmed to be the work of MIT, Friday’s killings would be its first significant attack since the organization’s leader was killed four years ago by Indonesia’s elite anti-terror squad, according to Jakarta-based terrorism expert Sidney Jones.
“Through the attack ... they want to show that police efforts to arrest and kill members of the group did not have any effect on” them, she said.
In 2018, MIT was believed to have sent radicals posing as humanitarian workers into Central Sulawesi’s quake-tsunami hit Palu city in a bid to recruit new members, Jones said.


Dutch government collapses over benefits scandal

Updated 57 min 26 sec ago

Dutch government collapses over benefits scandal

  • Parents being targeted for investigation because they had dual nationality also underscored long-standing criticisms of systemic racism in the Netherlands
  • The row threatens to leave the Netherlands without a government in the midst of a surge in cases of a new Covid-19 variant

THE HAGUE: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government resigned on Friday over a child benefits scandal, media reported, threatening political turmoil as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic.
Thousands of parents were wrongly accused by Dutch authorities of fraudulently claiming child allowance, with many of them forced to pay back large amounts of money and ending up in financial ruin.
The fact that some parents were targeted for investigation by tax officials because they had dual nationality also underscored long-standing criticisms of systemic racism in the Netherlands.
Dutch media said Rutte was due to give a statement at 1315 GMT about the resignation of his four-party coalition cabinet, which comes just two months before the Netherlands is due to hold a general election on March 17.
A hard-hitting parliamentary investigation in December said civil servants cut off benefits to thousands of families wrongly accused of fraud between 2013 and 2019.
The row threatens to leave the Netherlands without a government in the midst of a surge in cases of a new Covid-19 variant that first emerged in Britain.
Rutte had opposed the cabinet’s resignation, saying the country needs leadership during the pandemic.
He had however said that if it resigned he could be authorized to lead a caretaker government until elections — in which polls say his Freedom and Democracy Party would likely come first.
Other parties in the coalition had pushed for the government to take responsibility for the scandal, which Dutch media said some 26,000 people had been affected.
They could have also faced a confidence vote in parliament next week.
Pressure mounted on the government after opposition Labour party chief Lodewijk Asscher, who was social affairs minister in Rutte’s previous cabinet, resigned on Thursday over the scandal.
Victims also lodged a legal complaint Tuesday against three serving ministers and two former ministers including Asscher.
Many were required to pay back benefits totalling tens of thousands of euros (dollars).
Tax officials were also revealed to have carried out “racial profiling” of 11,00 people based on their dual nationality, including some of those hit by the false benefit fraud accusations.
The Dutch government announced at least 30,000 euros in compensation for each parent who was wrongly accused but it has not been enough to silence the growing clamour over the scandal.
Rutte has led three coalition governments since 2010, most recently winning elections in 2017 despite strong opposition from far-right leader Geert Wilders.
Polls say he is likely to win a fourth term in the next election, with public opinion still largely backing his handling of the coronavirus crisis.