The National Police will beef up security in seven areas believed to be prime targets for terrorist attacks ahead of the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
The areas that will receive special attention are East Java, Central Java, Jakarta, North Sumatra, Central Sulawesi, Bali and Maluku. Police justified the selection on past experience, current trends and areas that had been targeted in the past.
“There are several regional police jurisdictions that have received special attention,” Insp. Gen. Badrodin Haiti, the National Police’s assistant head of operations, said on Wednesday.
“We have invited the operational heads of the provincial police forces to the National Police headquarters for a briefing on anticipating any potential terrorism threats. We have even specifically identified the cities that are indicated as potential targets for terrorism activities.”
Badrodin, the former North Sumatra Police chief, said the number of security personnel to be deployed in those provinces would depend on the regional forces’ respective capabilities.
He added that the regions had been included in the National Police’s operational plans for security measures for the end-of-year period, so that officers there could be on high alert for possible terrorist activity.
The security operation will run from Dec. 23 through Jan. 1.
During this period, police will heighten security at the 38,499 registered churches across Indonesia.
Besides churches, Badrodin said that police would also step up security on roads, train stations, bus terminals, tourism sites and malls, because Dec. 24 is slated to be a common day off to allow the public to enjoy a long weekend.
Indonesia was rocked by a series of coordinated bomb blasts at several churches and police stations nationwide on Christmas Eve in 2000. The attacks were carried out by Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, whose suspected spiritual leader, Abu Bakar Bashir, was convicted last year on charges that included involvement in the church bombings.
More recent terrorist activities have been blamed on militants with links to Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid, a hard-line organization founded by Bashir.
On Monday night, police recaptured an escaped terrorist who was part of a militant cell based in Solo, Central Java, many of whose members are known to be affiliated with the JAT.
Roki Aprisdianto was arrested on board a bus in the East Java town of Madiun, just hours before a visit there by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, although police played down the timing of his presence there as merely a coincidence.
Roki had been on the run since Nov. 6, after an audacious escape from a Jakarta Police detention center in which he disguised himself as a female visitor by wearing a burqa and walking out of the jail.