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Indonesia to heighten security during Christmas, New Year
Indonesia will heighten security nationwide during Christmas and New Year to offset possible attacks by extremists targeting Christians.
Iskandar Hasan, national police spokesman, said the police are coordinating with churches and local governments to beef up security amid bomb threats and threats of church burnings, the AFP said.
Hasan said, “Ahead of Christmas and New Year, we’ll enhance security measures to anticipate bomb threats and church burnings. The national police chief has ordered all police personnel across the country to coordinate with churches and local administrations to take preventive measures,” the AFP reported.
The statement was issued after several bombs were discovered and defused in a number of churches and police stations, and after a shooting incident at a church, Xinhua news said.
Since Nov. 30 bombs were found in three churches and three police stations. Another church was firebombed, and another shot at, all in Central Java, according to The Jakarta Globe.
Last Tuesday two Molotov cocktail bombs were thrown at Kristus Raja Church near Solo, Central Java. No one was harmed and there was minimal damage. Later that day a bomb was found in a Solo police station, The Jakarta Globe said.
Last Sunday shots were fired at the balcony of Muria Indonesia Church in Solo’s Serengan subdistrict. Bombs were also found in the Bunda Maria Convent in Sleman, and two churches and two police stations in Klaten district, The Jakarta Globe reported.
Hasan said security will be beefed up at churches and tourism destinations due to the holidays, Xinhua reported. The Jakarta Globe quoted a police source who said the country’s counterterrorism squad is on high alert.
A separate police source told The Jakarta Globe that bombs found at two of the sites closely resembled bombs that were found in the training grounds of an Islamic militant group in Aceh.
An alleged financier of the terror group is cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who is also believed to be the spiritual leader of the terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, The Jakarta Globe said.
The AFP said while Hasan did not name any terror group, he did say the rash of bomb threats were likely the work of terrorists. Several Islamic extremist groups operate in Indonesia, many of them homespun, with the aim of waging jihad or holy war against non Muslims and the government, so they can enforce shariah law in the country.
Analysts have noted a marked rise of religious intolerance in Indonesia. On Christmas Eve 2000, several bombs went off in churches around Jakarta, the capital city, and outlying cities leaving 19 dead and more injured, the AFP said.
In 2002, bombs went off in tourist areas in Bali, a resort island, leaving 202 dead, largely Westerners. The AFP said that since then hundreds of alleged terrorists were arrested and convicted.
Recently in Bakasi, near Jakarta, a priest was beaten and a Christian elder stabbed amid heightened tensions in the area over plans to build a Protestant church, the AFP reported.