Indonesia: Hundreds of Christians flee from a village which was attacked by an Islamic group

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Indonesian Christians

Hundreds of Christians leave Indonesia’s Aceh Singkil regency, Aceh afet an Islamic extremist group attacked a village and set a church on fire.

In keeping with details, the Islamic extremist group members disguised as the Islamic Care Youth Students Association (PPI) arrived at the Suka Makmur village, Gunung Meriah district, Aceh Singkil.

The extremists arrived in trucks on Tuesday October 14, afternoon and attacked the village at the same time they set on fire the Huria Kristen Indonesia (HKI) Church. It has been reported that the extremists believed the church was illegal.

This village is a Christian majority village, and they tried to defend their church and shot one of the attackers dead. The attacker shot dead was identified as Samsul. Prior to the attack, hundreds of police and military officers were deployed at the village in anticipation of the attack but they failed to prevent the attack as the attackers outnumbered them. However, apart form the 21-year-old attacker shot dead, another three attackers were injured and were taken to a local hospital where they are under treatment.

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After the attack, about 75% of the villagers have left the village and their houses are vacant. “We are still afraid that an incident could occur again if [the situation is] not handled properly,” a Christian villager Silaban said.

The church which was set on fire by the attackers was one out of 10 churches in the Aceh Singkil regency which was frowned upon by the Islamic group. The Islamic group protested against these churches, and it has been reported that during a recent meeting between the Islamic group representatives, the church board members and local officials, it was decided to demolish these churches on October 19.

In the wake of this violence the President of Indonesia Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has said, “Stop violence in Aceh Singkil. Any act of violence, whatever the reasons behind it, not to mention if it is related to religion and faith, will kill diversity.”

It has been recorded by the police that 3,433 people had left the area and moved to Central Tapanuli regency while another 976 people moved to Pakpak Bharat regency, both regencies are in North Sumatra.