Indonesian police arrested four suspected terrorists in two locations last week as they ramped up security ahead of Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations, a spokesman said Tuesday.
Members of the nation’s elite counter-terrorism police force Densus 88 arrested two people in Sleman regency, Yogyakarta, on Dec. 11 on suspicion of plotting to launch an attack in the West Java regency of Indramayu during the holiday period, national police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said.
Three days later, police apprehended two brothers in Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi province, over their alleged involvement in a terrorist network, Dedi said, without providing details. Police did not release the names of any of the suspects.
South Sulawesi police chief Inspector Gen. Umar Saptono said the brothers were suspected to be part of the terrorist network led by Abu Khanza, who was arrested in December 2017 after he was accused of involvement in a plot to attack police stations on Sumatra island.
The police spokesman said terrorism remained a serious threat during the upcoming holidays, especially on Java island.
“Our priority is to anticipate terrorist attacks on Java, and then several areas on Sumatra,” Dedi said.
Almost 100,000 police and military personnel are being deployed across the country to provide security at bus terminals, train stations, shopping centers and churches during the festive season and April 17 elections, he said.
Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has been hit by a spate of bomb attacks blamed on Islamist militants.
In 2000, at least 18 people were killed and 118 injured when bombs went off at churches on Christmas Eve in a coordinated attack blamed on the Jemaah Islamiyah militant group.
Zaki Mubarak, a terrorism analyst at the Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN) in Jakarta, warned of potential terror attacks on Christmas and the New Year’s Eve.
“But the threat is not as big as in previous years,” he told BenarNews.
Dedi said Muslim and Hindu organizations are expected to help provide security at churches during Christmas services. About 10 percent of Indonesia’s 250 million people are Christians.