As many as 90,000 soldiers will be guarding more than 50,000 churches across Indonesia in an effort to thwart terror attacks during Christmas.
Francis Xavier Ping Tedja, security coordinator at Santa Maria Church, told UCA News earlier this week that 70 police officers and members of Banser — the youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest moderate Muslim group in the country, will guard the church for Christmas services.
“We have coordinated with police, military, and Islamic groups to maintain the security, so that Catholics can attend Christmas masses comfortably and safely,” Tedja said.
“We hope Catholics will not be afraid to attend Christmas masses at the church,” he added.
The church in Surabaya, East Java, was attacked by suicide bombers in May. The terrorists, linked with the Islamic State terror group, targeted three churches in the world’s most populous Islamic nation, killing 18 people.
Father Antonius Suyadi, chairman of the Jakarta Archdiocese’s Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Commission, added that the Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral Church in Jakarta will be secured by 300 police and military personnel.
“Besides the cathedral church, police and military forces will also guard other Catholic churches in the archdiocese,” Suyadi explained.
As police combat terrorist threats, the nation’s leaders continue to work on reconciliation efforts that include terror attack survivors meeting face-to-face with people who’ve carried out bombings.
A three-day first-of-its-kind event was staged in March in Jakarta, where 124 convicted terrorists met 51 survivors of attacks and their family members.
One former Islamic radical who killed three people in 2002 spoke of his regret for what he did.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Stoyan Zaimov