Indonesia put on terror alert ahead of Eid al-Fitr

Security measures stepped up for end of Ramadan with deadly Surabaya church attacks still fresh in the minds of many
Indonesia put on terror alert ahead of Eid al-Fitr

Passengers disembark from a ship on arrival at the Surabaya port in East Java on June 11, as people travel to their hometowns to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr festival to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Cities in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country empty out every year at the end of the holy month of Ramadan as people head to villages to celebrate Eid with their families. (Photo by Juni Kriswanto/AFP)

Indonesian police chief Tito Karnavian has warned of terror attacks and ordered increased security at places of worship, as millions of Muslims prepare to celebrate Eid al-Fitr — the end of Ramadan this week.

Vigilance has been a priority since deadly terror attacks on three churches in Surabaya, East Java province last month, which killed 27 people, including 13 terrorists, he said.

"We have to stay alert for the terrorism threat after the bombings in Surabaya," he said June 10.

"We need to be vigilant because terrorists consider an attack during Ramadan as having greater impact," he added.

Since the Surabaya bombings involving members of two families, police have maintained an anti-terrorism drive that has seen the arrest of 96 suspects and 14 others killed, Karnavian said.

In East Java province, the police have deployed 2,650 officers to maintain security during Eid al-Fitr on June 14-15 through June 24.

Surabaya city government has also upped security at 95 churches in the city center and other houses of worship.

"We will conduct regular patrols to review security at these places," Eddy Christijanto, head of city's Public Order Agency told ucanews.com.

"We have also reminded all citizens to immediately report suspicious activity," he added.

Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, chairman of the youth wing of Muhammmadiyah, Indonesia's second-largest Islamic organization, said his members would work with police to secure mosques and churches.

"With the threat of terror attacks, I would urge Muslims to celebrate Eid al-Fitr calmly," he said.

On the Catholic majority Island of Flores, Doni Parera, a Catholic activist in Borong, East Manggarai regency said Catholic youths would help ensure the safety of Muslims during this week's celebrations.

"As they will use an open field to pray in at Eid al-Fitr, we will help them maintain security," he said.

"It is a part of our commitment to show religious tolerance in the midst of rising religious violence," he said. 

Since the end of last week, millions of Indonesians have left cities and returned to their villages for the annual homecoming at the end of the fasting month.

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The government estimates 8 million people will go home for Eid al Fitr this year.

Achmad Wibowo, 28, from Jakarta who returned to his hometown in Sragen, Central Java on June 10 said he is not worried about security over Eid al Fitr.

"But, I'll always stay alert," he said.

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