Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – General Tito Karnavian, head of the Indonesian police, has announced new security measures for the Christmas period.
So far, security forces have not detected any terror plot by Islamist militants. However, the year-end holiday security plan includes the deployment of more than 20,000 agents in Jakarta for the Christmas and New Year celebrations, from 23 December to 1 January.
“There are no attack plans just yet but as usual we will take it step by step, or do what we call pre-emptive strikes on groups that we think may potentially act,” General Tito said.
Indonesia’s counter-terrorism police unit Densus 88 has foiled several terrorist attacks in recent years, including many that were planned for this time of the year and often inspired or directed by elements of the Islamic State (IS).
Targeting Christian places of worship and government buildings during the holiday season is a top priority for Islamist militants in Southeast Asia.
Remnants of the old Jemaah Islamiah terrorist network and members of the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah continue to pose a security threat to Indonesia.
Christians represent about 10 per cent of the population of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country. Protestants number about 17 million, whilst Catholics are around 7 million (3 per cent). Both groups are often threatened and targeted by extremists and terrorists.
On Christmas Eve in 2000, bomb attacks against 11 churches across the country killed 13 people and wounded another 100. At the time, the attacks were blamed on the Jemaah Islamiah, a group linked to al Qaeda.
Since then, every year thousands of members of Indonesia’s two main moderate Islamic organisations (Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah) have guarded Christian places of worship and other buildings during the holidays.