Indonesia warns of possibly violent Christmas, steps up security around churches
JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Indonesia's president has ordered police to step up security around churches over the Christmas holidays following reports of possible attacks.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono did not name the groups, but it was a clear reference to Islamic extremists. Though major terror groups have largely been crushed following a series of deadly attacks in the early 2000s, small Muslim extremist cells still operate.
"I have received a report from the chief of police of the existence of the elements who plan to disrupt security and order in certain places," the presidential palace quoted Yudhoyono as saying on Thursday before flying to Japan for a regional summit.
The warning comes amid growing concerns of a rise in religious intolerance in the world's largest Muslim population, with the government criticised for not doing enough to protect religious minorities, including Christians, from hardline Islamic groups.