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Jakarta Post

Minister apologizes for 'heavy security' at churches

  • Dian Septiari

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, December 25, 2017   /   12:34 pm
Minister apologizes for 'heavy security' at churches All clear: Personnel of the joint National Police-Indonesian military (TNI) security force check St Peter's Church in Pekalongan, Central Java, using a vehicle mirror on Dec.19. The joint security operation, dubbed "Operation Candlelight", deployed thousands of personnel to safeguard Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations across Indonesia. (Antara/Harviyan Perdana Putra)

Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo has apologized to Christians in the country if they have felt uncomfortable with the government's heavy security measures to safeguard churches during the Christmas holiday. 

"We apologize if [Christmas celebrations] seemed heavily guarded," the minister said while visiting Jakarta Cathedral in Central Jakarta. 

Security was heightened, the minister said, "solely to provide assurance that people can worship peacefully and solemnly without any interference."

The National Police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) have deployed about 180,000 personnel to secure Christmas this year to anticipate possible terror attacks.

In 2016, the combined security forces deployed only 150,000 personnel.

National Police Chief Gen. Tito Karnavian and TNI Commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto joined the minister in touring several Central Jakarta churches on Sunday night to inspect the security operation, dubbed "Operation Candlelight", (Operasi Lilin).

Other than Jakarta Cathedral, the three leaders also visited Batak Protestant Church and St. Emmanuel's Church.

Tito stressed that Christmas Eve celebrations passed without incident. "Until today, there have been no reports of any significant incidents. It has been safe," Tito said.

Meanwhile, Hadi said that the TNI was fully behind the police's annual security operation through New Year's.

"We promise that everything is safe and will run smoothly until January 2. We are backing the Police fully," he said. (ahw)