Indonesia will deploy about 250,000 police officers during the end-of-year holidays, the nation’s police chief said Thursday, as he appealed for tolerance after a hardline Islamic group threatened to conduct “sweeping operations” to prevent businesses from forcing Muslims to wear Santa Claus hats.
National Police Chief Tito Karnavian announced the increased police presence – a significant jump from last year’s deployment of 155,000 officers for Christmas and New Year – at a ceremony launching Operation Lilin at the National Monument Square in Jakarta.
During the event attended by thousands of police, military and public agency security officers, Tito downplayed concerns about potential militant attacks.
“We have not detected any threats of attacks by terrorist groups,” Tito said. “However, we must remain vigilant, there could be lone wolves or individuals who could launch an attack.”
“Lone wolves are individuals who have become radicalized over content on the internet. They learn how to make bombs from the internet and their whereabouts are undetected. We can only arrest them after an attack,” he said.
Earlier this month, the national anti-terror squad Densus 88 arrested 20 suspected terrorists in four provinces.
“We have launched a pre-emptive strike,” Tito said at the time. “We have arrested most of the groups that we consider having the potential to launch terror attacks.” He did not elaborate.
Tito said police would increase security at churches and entertainment spots in the Muslim-majority nation to curtail “sweeping operations.”
Earlier this week, the hardline Islamic Defenders Front threatened to raid business to check for Muslims being forced to wear Santa hats or other Christmas-related outfits, Reuters news service reported.
“There can be no sweeping operations,” Tito said. “Members of the public should respect other religions that are carrying out celebrations.”
“We reflect on our experience in 2000,” Tito said, referring to Christmas Eve bomb attacks outside churches across Indonesia that killed 18 people. “We don’t want that to happen again.”
Full story: BenarNews
Nisita Kirana Pratiwi
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