JAKARTA (AFP) – An Indonesian militant group led by the country’s most wanted extremist has claimed responsibility for the brutal murder of a farmer accused of being a police informant.
The Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen, led by an extremist known as Santoso, said they had killed Fadli – a 50-year-old who like many Indonesians goes by one name – on the central island of Sulawesi, a known hotbed of militant activity.
According to the police, five men, some of them wearing balaclavas, dragged the victim out of his house on Thursday night and hacked at his neck, almost decapitating him. Police are still hunting the attackers.
“We have slaughtered a villager,” the Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen said in a statement released to extremist websites in recent days.
The killing was “due to his infidel act of providing information to the cursed Detachment 88 (an elite police anti-terror unit) that resulted in an attack against us, killing two of our brothers,” said the statement.
It was not clear which attack they were referring to, although police regularly carry out raids against suspected militants on Sulawesi.
National police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said Monday that authorities could not confirm if Fadli was murdered by militants, but he added: “This is the usual modus operandi of terror groups.”
Santoso’s group has been blamed for a series of attacks on security forces in the area in recent years.
The killing came just days after four foreign men, identified by police as being from China’s mostly-Muslim Uighur minority, were detained in Sulawesi as they allegedly sought to meet Santoso and receive militant training.
Police are investigating whether the four have links to the Islamic State group that has seized control of swathes of Iraq and Syria.
Santoso has also reportedly sworn allegiance to IS.
Indonesia is home to the world’s biggest Muslim population of about 225 million and has long struggled with terrorism.
A series of high-profile attacks, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, prompted a crackdown that has been largely successful in weakening the most dangerous networks.