Saturday, September 18, 2021

Indonesian cops step up Easter security at churches after terror attacks

President Joko Widodo says there is no place for terrorism in Indonesia.

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Indonesian police said on Thursday that they will be increasing security at churches across the country ahead of the Easter weekend, after two recent terror attacks, CNA reports.

A Catholic church in the city of Makassar, South Sulawesi province, was hit by suicide bombers last Sunday. Twenty people were injured in the blast, four of whom are still hospitalised.

Then on Wednesday, a 25-year-old woman exchanged fire with police inside the National Police headquarters in Jakarta. She fired six shots at police officers before being shot dead.

President Joko Widodo on Thursday condemned the two acts of terrorism, saying, “I have instructed national police chief, military chief and state intelligence agency chief to increase vigilance. There is no place for terrorism in our motherland.”

National police spokesman Rusdi Hartono told reporters police will search churches for bombs and other suspicious items before services.

“Police will also be deployed to guard church entrances and check people’s belongings,” he said, adding that police are reviewing their own security procedures after the Jakarta incident.

Suspected gunwoman Zaikah Aini, described as “a lone wolf” who believed in Islamic State (IS) ideology, is thought to have entered the police compound through a pedestrian gate, claiming that she was delivering documents. An internal investigation is underway to see if officers manning the gate had searched her properly.

Hartono said, “She was able to sneak a gun into the police headquarters, so we are auditing our security procedures. If there are flaws, we will make improvements nationwide.”

Although several police outposts and regional offices have been the target of terror attacks, this was the first time the national headquarters has been hit.

Police said prior to the attack she posted an image of the IS flag on her Instagram account. She had also messaged her family to say goodbye over WhatsApp.

Neighbours described the college dropout, who was reportedly buried in a private funeral on Thursday, as a quiet woman who rarely left her house.

“She was very different from her parents who are very friendly and sociable,” a neighbour told Detik news portal.

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