Police ready to secure Christmas celebrations: top security minister

Police ready to secure Christmas celebrations: top security minister

The police all over Indonesia have been ready to secure this year's Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations, according to Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud MD. (Antara Foto/Syaiful Hakim/RN)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The police all over Indonesia are prepared to secure this year's Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations, according to Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, Mahfud MD.

"Our police are ready, and Insya Allah (God willing), our people will celebrate Christmas and New Year in a tranquil and peaceful manner," he told journalists after meeting with National Police Chief, General Idham Azis, here on Thursday.

The police would conduct a so-called "Operasi Lilin" (Operation Candle) as part of their efforts to secure the Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations, he said.

National Police Spokesman, Brig. Gen. Argo Yuwono, revealed earlier that "Operasi Lilin" and several other programs would be conducted by the police to ensure public security at various places, including houses of worship, shopping malls, and recreation sites.

Ahead of the Christmas celebrations, the North Sumatra police deployed 1,200 personnel, while the Indonesian military (TNI) dispatched 200 personnel to secure churchgoers wanting to join congregations at churches.

"With this solid synergy, this year's Christmas celebrations will run peacefully," Medan City Police Chief, Sen. Coms. Dadang Hartanto, said, adding that the police and TNI officers had coordinated with the authorities of several churches in the city for security purposes.

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In securing the city, the police and TNI personnel would be assisted by some 100 officers of the Medan Public Order Agency (Satpol PP). The church leaders were also expected to activate their respective internal security systems, he said.

Indonesia had experienced a string of bombing attacks at churches in several cities, including Medan and Jakarta, on December 24, 2000.

Related news: Bomb explodes in front of Surabaya church, killing two people

On November 13, 2019, a suicide bomber detonated a homemade bomb that he carried to the yard of the Medan City Police Headquarters.

The attacker died during the blast that injured six people.

Related news: Medan terror suspects pledge allegiance to IS

Related news: Bandung police HQ security tightened following Medan attack

Meanwhile, a terrorism expert has called on counterterrorism agencies in Indonesia to remain alert and focus on any potential terror threat during the Christmas and New Year's Eve holiday season until the first month of 2020.

Precautionary measures should be extended while drawing reference to the terrorist attack on Thamrin Street in Central Jakarta on January 14, 2016, Habib noted on December 4.

The terrorist attack on January 14, 2016, exposed the fact that such an incident took place after security agencies might have lowered their vigil. Hence, counterterrorism agencies should not merely focus on December 25 and 31, and January 1.

Habib noted that the extended period to stay alert to any potential threat of a terror attack was deemed necessary since the attack patterns of the terrorists might have also changed.

He forecast that the terror attacks could potentially take place from December 2019 to January 2020, though the patterns could slightly change from the previous years.

Related news: Counterterrorism agencies advised to maintain vigil until January

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