A spate of violent muggings by machete-wielding thieves in Indonesia has drawn coded calls from prominent politicians for them to be killed on sight by police, in comments condemned by human rights groups as condoning extrajudicial murders.

Last month, police in the northern Sumatran city of Medan shot dead a “begal” – an Indonesian term used to describe a type of street thief known for their brutality – as part of what the force said was a bid to “eradicate” them.

Bobby Nasution, mayor of Medan and President Joko Widodo’s son-in-law, lauded the officers involved, saying such criminals should be shot dead on the spot.

“I appreciate this because begal and criminals have no place in Medan,” he wrote in an Instagram post on Jul 9, sharing footage of the suspect’s dead body.