Australia issues security alert for Indonesia

Indonesian national police says no evidence found indicating any planned attacks in second largest city.

Australia issues security alert for Indonesia
World Bulletin / News Desk
 Australia has followed the U.S. in issuing a security warning for Indonesia, urging citizens to exercise great caution amid intelligence reports of potential attacks.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters in Perth on Tuesday that Australia was monitoring potential threats in Indonesia "very closely" and stressed: "There is always a need for caution when travelling overseas."

The Department of Foreign Affairs said in travel advice released Monday that it had received information suggesting "terrorists" may be planning attacks in Indonesia.

The advice tells Australian nationals they "should exercise particular caution around locations that have a low level of protective security and avoid places known to be possible terrorist targets."

Referring to the loss of Australian lives in the 2002 Bali attack, Bishop said Tuesday: "We're working closely with the Indonesian security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies."

The bombings killed 202 people, including 88 Australians and seven Americans.

Bishop said that although she would feel comfortable visiting Bali, tourists should take out insurance or reconsider traveling if they cannot afford the expense.

The alert was issued as Prime Minister Tony Abbott visited the Middle East, where Australian forces are taking part in air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIL.

On Saturday, the U.S. Embassy in Indonesian capital Jakarta posted a security warning on its website for U.S.-associated banks and hotels in Surabaya, the country’s second largest city.

"The U.S. embassy has been made aware of a potential threat against U.S.-associated hotels and banks in Surabaya, Indonesia," the statement said. “The US embassy recommends heightened vigilance and awareness of one’s surroundings when visiting such facilities."

The next day, Indonesia’s national police force announced that there was no indication of planned terror activities in Surabaya.

Inspector General Ronny F. Sompie, national police spokesperson, told the Jakarta Post: "There’s nothing to worry about since the intelligence assessment carried out by the National Police’s head of intelligence and security department has so far found that there are no public order disruptions [in Surabaya] related to any terror plot."

Nevertheless, he added that National Police chief Gen. Sutarman, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, had ordered police in East Java province to increase their vigilance and raise awareness.

"The police expect all parties to be cooperative by contacting and informing [us] about any developments that could lead to public order disruptions, including those initiated by terrorists," the Post quoted him as saying.

Surabaya was the departure point of the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 that crashed into the Java Sea on Dec. 28. The U.S. said the warning was not related to the flight tragedy.

Indonesia’s National Counterterrorism Agency has reported that more than 500 Indonesians support ISIL. In August, Indonesia banned membership and support for the group.

Several ministries, intelligence agencies and the National Counterterrorism Agency have been instructed to work together to detect and prevent would-be fighters from traveling to conflict areas like the Middle East and south Asia.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Ocak 2015, 12:17