JAKARTA, Indonesia–Indonesia plans to deploy 2,400 police officers to guard Lunar New Year celebrations in the capital against the threat of a possible terrorist attack uncovered during a recent counter-terrorism raid.
On New Year's Eve police raided a suspected terrorist hideout on the outskirts of Jakarta, killing six people and collecting weapons, bomb-making material and cash. The police also found a list of 50 Buddhist centers in Jakarta, indicating that the men – suspected to be part of a larger militant group – were planning to attack Buddhist temples in the capital in retaliation for harsh treatment of the Muslim minority in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, said Jakarta police spokesman Rikwanto.
Most Buddhists in Indonesia are Chinese who often practice the religion along with Confucianism.
Mr. Rikwanto said one of the targets of the potential attack was Ekayana Vihara, one of the largest Buddhist centers in Jakarta. A small, homemade bomb exploded there in August, lightly injuring one person and causing minor damage.
Evidence of a possible attack against Buddhists has raised concerns that ongoing unrest in Myanmar could continue to have repercussions in Indonesia – even after a court in south Jakarta recently issued a seven-and-a-half year sentence to the admitted mastermind of a plot to bomb the Myanmar embassy.
Religious-based violence in Myanmar has killed more than 100 people – mostly Muslims – leading some hard-liners in Muslim-majority Indonesia to call for jihad, or holy war, against the country.
The Lunar New Year, which is commonly called Imlek in Indonesia, will be celebrated Friday.
Under former president Suharto, who ruled Indonesia for 32 years until widespread protests forced him to step down in 1998, Chinese Indonesians were banned from celebrating the holiday as part of a larger anti-communist campaign that associated Chinese-Indonesians with the Communist Party. The use of the Chinese language was also banned and ethnic Chinese were forced to adopt Indonesian names.
The ban was lifted under president Abdurrahman Wahid in 2000.
Since then, the Lunar New Year is widely celebrated in Buddhist and Confucius temples around the country, as well as shopping malls, which hold Chinese lion dance performances to attract visitors.
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