Security beefed up in Indonesia ahead of Christmas and New Year holidays

Tribeca Park in Jakarta decked out in Christmas decorations. Indonesia police are beefing up security in the capital for the holiday season. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - Indonesian police have not detected any terror plots ahead of Christmas but efforts to ensure security during the year-end holiday season are under way, said police chief Tito Karnavian on Monday (Dec 11).

These includes deploying more than 20,000 officers on patrol in Jakarta for the Christmas and New Year celebrations from Dec 23 until Jan 1.

"There are no attack plans just yet but as usual we will take it step by step, or do what we call pre-emptive strikes on groups that we think may potentially act," General Tito said.

Indonesia's counter-terrorism police unit Densus 88 has foiled several terrorist attacks in recent years, including many that were planned for this time of the year and often inspired or directed by elements of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Exactly one year ago, crack commandos from the unit stopped a 27-year-old woman who had planned to mount a suicide bombing at the presidential palace with a home-made "rice cooker" bomb.

Striking during the Christmas and New Year holiday period remains a top priority for militants in South-east Asia, where remnants of the old Jemaah Islamiah terrorist network and members of the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah continue to pose a threat.

Security forces in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, where there is a significant presence of militants loyal to ISIS, typically ramp up patrols at tourist hot spots and places where large crowds are expected at this time of the year. They also conduct surveillance of known extremists and carry out pre-emptive raids and arrests.

Gen Tito added that Indonesian police have been sharing information with counterparts in Malaysia in a bid to prevent further attacks.

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