Suara Pembaruan reports that the Indonesian police are warning of the possibility of terrorist attacks by militant groups in Indonesia in the period leading up to the Christmas and New Years.
Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has responded to the potential threat by ordering the police to increase security at churches during the Christmas worship period. The President has received reports of a possible attack on places of worship by unnamed extremist elements.
Despite major victories by the government's anti-terrorist units, a small network of terrorists are still believed to be in operation.
A presidential spokesman said: “I have received reports from the head of the police regarding the continuing existence of elements planning to disturb the peace and public order in a few specific places.”
As a result, the police have issued cautionary warning to members of the Christian community in Indonesia regarding the possibility of attacks by extremist Islamic elements during the Christmas and New Year period.
The Chief of the National Police General Sutarman has issued a statement confirming indications that militants are targeting "certain places" and may be developing explosive devices. Sutarman said: “The terrorists have networks everywhere that are active. We continue to hunt them down.”
The Chief of Police’s warning is being taken seriously due to its specific nature of the threats and their timing amidst a growing wave of religious intolerance in Indonesia. The government has suffered criticism from a number of quarters for failing to ensure the safety of minority religious groups.
Sutarman said that in addition to specific targets in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, Sulawesi is also seen as a specific target for terrorist acts. While admitting there were other areas in terrorists' sites, Sutarman would not elaborate and name those areas.
“I ask that everyone remain calm because the police are safeguarding security for those who celebrate Christmas and New Year,” said Sutarman.
He added that the police continue to monitor suspected members of terrorist networks, but will only take definitive action if plans for attack develop further.
The Police Chief reminded that the government has crushed a number of terrorist cells over the past decades, brining to justice those who bombed Bali in 2002 in an attack that killed 202 people.
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