Police arrest dozens, issue terror warnings ahead of Indonesia election result

Jakarta: Indonesia is deploying 32,000 security personnel in the capital Jakarta after warnings of a possible militant attack during the official announcement of presidential election results next week, police said.

National Police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal said police have apprehended more than 60 alleged terrorists since January, with 29 arrested just this month. Eight suspected were killed while resisting arrest.

Indonesian Special Detachment 88 anti-terror police unit escorts terror suspects during a press conference at in Jakarta on Friday.Credit:AP

He said the suspects planned to set off bombs during expected street protests when the official vote count is announced by May 22.

Iqbal said the 29 were affiliated with Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a terrorist group formed by Aman Abdurrahman, an Islamic State-affiliated terrorist now in maximum security at Nusakambangan penal island. He said 18 of the group were involved in bomb making.

"This group is taking the election momentum because democracy is not an ideology they follow. We ask the people not to go down the street [on May 22] as it would be dangerous. They would attack all masses including security apparatus.

Indonesian police say they have arrested suspected militants following a tipoff about a possible attack during the announcement of presidential election results next week. Credit:AP

"The arrest is a preventive strike," Iqbal said displaying a number of items ceased in connection with the arrests, including five home-made bombs, red phosphorous of high explosive, four knives, bows and arrows. Police also presented 10 handcuffed suspects wearing black ski masks and orange prisoner uniforms.

National police spokesman Brigadier general Muhammad Iqbal, centre, shows ammunition, explosive-making materials and other evidence confiscated from suspected militants.Credit:AP

The JAD network of almost two dozen extremist organisations has been implicated in numerous attacks in Indonesia in the past three years and was designated a terror organisation by the US in 2017.

Iqbal urged people not to hold street rallies and avoid mass gathering on the day for their safety.

In March, the wife of an Islamic militant arrested for allegedly plotting attacks in Jakarta detonated a bomb during a siege of their home in North Sumatra, killing herself and her two-year-old child.

Another police spokesman, Dedi Prasetyo, said police and military personnel would set up a security cordon around the headquarters of the Election Supervisory Agency and the Electoral Commission in downtown Jakarta.

President Joko Widodo, right, has claimed victory, setting the stage for potential protests by supporters of his challenger Prabowo Subianto, left.Credit:Bloomberg, AP

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, is an outpost of democracy in a Southeast Asian neighbourhood of authoritarian governments. It held the biggest single-day election on April 17 to elect a president and national and regional parliaments.

Vote counts from five independent survey groups showed incumbent President Joko Widodo with a clear lead over Prabowo Subianto, a general during the era of the Suharto military dictatorship who warned Indonesia would fall apart without his strongman leadership.

Subianto's insistence that he was on course for victory, and his allegations of fraud, have led to speculation in some quarters that he might be trying to himself fix the results or would refuse to concede.

That would put pressure on the country's democratic institutions and could possibly lead to violence.

His supporters recently held street rallies to call for fairness and vigilance in the vote counting, as the government warned that efforts to cast doubt on the outcome could amount to treason.

The Australian government's Smartraveller service recommends people avoid protests, demonstrations and rallies, as these can turn violent without warning. It hasn't changed the risk level for Indonesia but says "exercise a high degree of caution in Indonesia overall, including Bali".

AP with Karuni Rompies

Source: Read Full Article