JAKARTA: More than a dozen people have been arrested by Indonesian anti-terrorism police, authorities said on Monday, as they beef up security in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Police said they detained 13 suspected militants in separate, pre-emptive raids over the weekend across the Southeast Asian nation, which has long struggled with Islamic militancy.
“As usual, we are conducting pre-emptive strikes. We move before they do and we arrest the groups we believe will potentially commit an act (of terror),” national police chief Tito Karnavian said Monday.
The arrests took place in South Sumatra, East Java and West Kalimantan over the weekend.
One of the men arrested in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-biggest city, was known to have gone to Syria in 2013 and has links to Abu Jandal, an influential Indonesian militant who fought with the Islamic State group in the Middle Eastern country, authorities said.
Another suspect was involved in a February terror attack in the Indonesian city of Bandung, where a pressure cooker bomb exploded in a park before a gun battle erupted nearby, leaving one militant dead.
However, authorities have no specific information on a new planned attack, said national police spokesman Setyo Wasisto.
“There’s no confirmed plan for a terror attack that we have heard so far,” he said.
Indonesia’s anti-terror squad can detain and hold suspected extremists for seven days without charge.
Indonesia has suffered a string of deadly incidents, including a Christmas Eve attack in 2000 that left 18 dead and scores injured.
In 2002, a bomb in a Bali nightclub killed over 200 people while, more recently, a suicide bombing and gun attack claimed by IS in the capital Jakarta killed eight people in January 2016. AFP