Indonesia to build military base near south Philippines

JAKARTA • Indonesia will build more military bases on some of its outermost islands, including Morotai Island in North Maluku, which shares a border with the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.

The Indonesian military commander, General Gatot Nurmantyo, yesterday said plans to build a military base in Morotai were aimed at preventing Islamist militant groups, many of them in south Philippines, from entering Indonesia.

Once the new military facility was built, military equipment would be sent there, Gen Gatot said. He said the government would start building the Morotai base as soon as the one on Natuna, another of Indonesia's outer islands in Riau Island province, was completed.

"So, as President (Joko Widodo) has said, Morotai is an island where a military base will be built. But the construction process will be done step by step. Our priority is in Natuna, which is still under construction," Gen Gatot was quoted by news agency Antara as saying.

Separately, Indonesia's counter- terrorism police squad Densus 88 has arrested two people who allegedly gave a religious lecture to suicide bombers before the bombers attacked a bus terminal in Jakarta on May 24.

The suspects, identified as WT and MA, were picked up in Bandung, West Java, on Wednesday.

"WT, MA and MI gave religious lectures to them (the bombers) five days before the bombings. They met to hold a Quran recitation," the West Java Police spokesman, Senior Commissioner Yusri Yunus, said. "What they conveyed in their lectures ... we are investigating it."

MI was arrested by Densus 88 in Bandung on Monday.

In a separate raid, the squad arrested a suspected terrorist, identified as RS, in Yogyakarta on Tuesday for allegedly helping Indonesians who wished to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by sending them to Marawi in the Philippines and to Syria.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2017, with the headline 'Indonesia to build military base near south Philippines'. Subscribe