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Jakarta Post

Police heighten nationwide security toward Christmas, New Year 2019

  • Rizal Harahap

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta/Pekanbaru/Denpasar   /   Sun, December 23, 2018   /   06:36 pm
Police heighten nationwide security toward Christmas, New Year 2019 People start to decorate the altar of Jakarta Cathedral, on Friday, December 21, 2018, ahead of Christmas. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

Nearly 168,000 police personnel have been devoted to secure around 58,000 objects of security during Christmas and New Year to anticipate terror attacks and other crimes.

National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen Dedi Prasetyo said more than 48,000 churches and 1,904 New Year celebration locations would be guarded by security forces this year.

Other locations to be secured include tourist attractions, shopping centers, terminals, seaports, airports and train stations.

"The number of security objects and personnel rose 20 percent from the previous year," he told The Jakarta Post on Saturday. 

In May, a string of suicide bombings claimed by terrorist group Islamic State (IS) killed more than 30 people in the city of Surabaya, East Java. Bombs were also planted at two other churches in the city but failed to explode.

In the same month, the police shot dead four men after they used samurai swords to attack officers at Riau Police headquarters in Pekanbaru, Riau. Two officers were wounded in the attack, while another was killed after one of the perpetrators tried to escape and crashed into the officer.

Surabaya Disaster Mitigation Agency head Eddy Christianto said they were already coordinating with the police to secure churches in Surabaya ahead of Christmas.

“In a meeting with the churches, we also asked them to prepare security early on, for example by installing metal detectors and other tools,” he said.

Eddy also said security forces would conduct patrols to secure churches during Christmas. He hopes that this Christmas can be a safe one.

People prepare an 11-meter-high Christmas tree made of plastic bottles in front of Denpasar Cathedral in Bali, on Thursday, December 20, 2018. The tree is set to enliven Christmas celebrations and promote a campaign to reduce the use of plastics.People prepare an 11-meter-high Christmas tree made of plastic bottles in front of Denpasar Cathedral in Bali, on Thursday, December 20, 2018. The tree is set to enliven Christmas celebrations and promote a campaign to reduce the use of plastics. (JP/Zul Trio Anggono)

In Pekanbaru, the National Police’s counterterrorism unit Densus 88 and the Riau Police’s antiterror task force arrested on Friday three terrorism suspects related to the attacks this year.

"Three people were arrested, we are still observing the others," Riau Police chief Insp. Gen. Widodo Eko Prihastopo said.

He said the three suspects were allegedly related to a number of terror attacks in Indonesia.

“They were related to the attack at Riau Police headquarters and other areas in Indonesia, including those in Surabaya. I will not mention here the terrorist group that they come from, but they are clearly part of a terrorist group", he said.

He added that the prevention of terrorism during Christmas and New Year was the main focus in Riau because the region had had a bad experience during a past Christmas celebration. In 2000, a bomb exploded at the Batak Protestant Christian Church on Jl. Hang Tuah, Pekanbaru.

Therefore, they are launching security operations, which also cover crowded places such as shopping centers as well as inner and outer city traffic lines.

"That is why we must remain vigilant about terrorism. Don’t underestimate this. We’ve devoted 940 personnel to secure more than 300 churches in 12 regencies and cities in Riau,” he said. (ggq)