Indonesia boosts security for Christmas, New Year

Mobile brigade policemen attend a ceremony ahead of Christmas and New Year celebrations in Jakarta.
Mobile brigade policemen attend a ceremony ahead of Christmas and New Year celebrations in Jakarta.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (AFP) - Indonesia will deploy some 180,000 security personnel ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays, the authorities said on Friday (Dec 22), following the arrests of more than a dozen suspected militants in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country.

Thirteen suspected militants were arrested in separate, pre-emptive raids across the South-east Asian nation earlier this month.

Many of the suspects were proven to have links to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group or had fought in Syria.

Police spokesman Martinus Sitompul said no specific terror threats had been detected since the arrests, but security would be boosted to safeguard churches and public spaces between Dec 22 and Jan 2.

"We will keep monitoring and stay alert," he said.

About 70,000 people from other government agencies and civil society groups - including the country's largest Islamic youth organisation - would assist security personnel, Mr Sitompul said.

A sprawling archipelago of more than 250 million people, Indonesia has long struggled with Islamic militancy and has suffered a number of deadly bomb attacks, including a Christmas Eve attack in 2000 that left 18 dead and scores injured.

In 2002, a bomb in a Bali nightclub killed over 200 people while, more recently, a suicide bombing and gun attack claimed by ISIS in the capital Jakarta killed eight people in January last year.