Indonesian police beef up security ahead of election results
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — 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 Friday.
National Police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal said police have apprehended 29 people this month who planned to set off bombs during expected street protests when the official vote count is announced by May 22.
He told a news conference that the suspects were members of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, a local militant network affiliated with the Islamic State group, and have confessed that they planned attacks during the release of the election results.
The network of almost two dozen extremist organizations has been implicated in numerous attacks in Indonesia in the past three years and was designated a terror organization by the U.S. in 2017.
Iqbal urged people not to hold street rallies and avoid mass gathering on the day of the announcement for their safety.
He said the police counterterrorism squad has arrested 60 suspected militants so far this year and seven others were killed when they resisted arrest.
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 2-year-old child.
Another police spokesman, Dedi Prasetyo, said police and military personnel will set up a security cordon around the headquarters of the Election Supervisory Agency and the Electoral Commission in downtown Jakarta.
At the news conference, police presented 10 handcuffed suspects wearing black ski masks and orange prisoner uniforms. A long table in front of them was filled with items confiscated by police, including explosive materials, knifes, ammunition and jihadist books.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, is an outpost of democracy in a Southeast Asian neighborhood 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.