INDONESIA ON TOP ALERT AFTER BOMB FOUND NEAR CHURCH

JAKARTA: Indonesia said on Thursday that the nation was on its highest level of alert ahead of Easter after police arrested suspects over a series of “book bombs” and a foiled attack near a church in Jakarta.

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto said the Indonesian president “has instructed military, police, and people who care about combating terrorism to ensure security ahead of Easter”.

“Starting tonight, tomorrow morning and on easter day, the military and the police will be on the highest alert at all designated places,” Suyanto said.

National police spokesman Anton Bachrul Alam said that anti-terror police have arrested a total of 19 people, including two in Aceh province, north Sumatra.

The “book bombs” were sent to several addresses including those of liberal Muslim figures and a counter-terrorism official, but no one was killed.

Another parcel bomb was found Thursday morning near a church in Serpong on the outskirts of Jakarta, local police chief Heribertus Ompusunggu told AFP.

“The bomb was placed on an empty plot with a gas pipe running underground,” he said.

Officials said several of the 19 arrested people could be linked to last week’s suicide bombing in a mosque inside local police headquarters compound in the city of Cirebon in West Java.

The bomber, who detonated his explosives during Friday prayers, was killed instantly and injured 30 people.

The attack was the first suicide bombing inside a mosque in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation of 240 million people.

Indonesia has been rocked by a series of attacks staged by regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in recent years, including the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202 people.

Brussels-based think-tank International Crisis Group (ICG) on Tuesday pointed to a new trend of small violent groups adopting “individual jihad” aimed at local “enemies”, including police and Christians.

Jakarta police are deploying 20,000 officers to safeguard Easter celebrations in the capital Friday.

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