Terror alert in Riau Islands lowered

Indonesian police in Riau Islands yesterday lowered its terror alert levels after it was satisfied that a bomb threat last week no longer posed any immediate danger to residents and visitors in the province.

The move follows police investigations that did not uncover any evidence to support the threat issued by a little-known local Islamic militant group called Kelompok Islam Insaf, said Riau Islands police chief Sam Budigusdian.

In two chilling letters sent by local mail to the Singapore offices of ferry operators Horizon Fast Ferry and Batam Fast on July 4, the group threatened to strike popular tourist destinations such as Tanjung Pinang and the Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall in Batam, as well as key ports in Batam and Bintan this month.

The Singapore Police Force confirmed yesterday that a report about the letter sent to Batam Fast has been lodged.

General Sam said that as part of police investigations, an intelligence officer from Indonesia has been sent to meet his Singapore counterparts to learn more about the case.

He added that the Riau Islands police have only a copy of the letter while the original remains in the hands of the Singapore authorities.

"We have asked the authorities in Singapore to keep us informed of the findings from their investigations, so we are now waiting," added General Sam.

Police in Riau Islands had beefed up security at key installations and high-risk public areas after they were alerted to the bomb threat within days of Indonesia celebrating Aidilfitri last Wednesday.

More than 1,600 security personnel were deployed to places with crowds and a high concentration of foreigners, as well as seaports and the Hang Nadim International Airport in Batam.

Last week, on the eve of Aidilfitri, a suicide bomber had tried to attack a police station in the city of Solo in Central Java. A policeman was wounded when he successfully intercepted the suicide bomber, who died at the scene.

The police on Monday officially identified the attacker as Nur Rohman, a 30-year-old member of a local militant cell, who had learnt to build bombs from Bahrun Naim. Bahrun is an Indonesian militant believed to have been fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militant group since last year.

The police said investigation into the Solo bombing is now closed after investigators established that Nur Rohman was working alone.

Correction note: This story has been updated for clarity.

In an earlier version of the story, we referred to Riau Islands police chief as Sambudi Gusdian. His name should be Sam Budigusdian. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2016, with the headline 'Terror alert in Riau Islands lowered'. Print Edition | Subscribe