Australian consulate in Surabaya boosts security after threat

JAKARTA: Australia’s consulate in the Indonesian city of Surabaya boosted security measures yesterday after a social media post urged militants to ‘kill’ its officials there.

The nation’s Department of Foreign Affairs updated its travel advisory yesterday, noting that Australian officials in Surabaya would not be attending an event at the Airlangga University in the city ‘due to heightened security concerns’.

Two security sources in Indonesia, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the elevated security threat related to a social media posting that urged Indonesians in Surabaya and East Java province to ‘Kill these Australian officials’.

“Australia is a member of the international coalition against Islamic State which massacred thousands of Muslims. Revenge the blood of Muslims,” said the message, which was reviewed by Reuters and verified by officials as the source of concern.

One security source in Indonesia said the posting on the Telegram app, which later spread to other social media platforms, appeared to have originated in the Netherlands.

“It’s not that credible,” the source told Reuters in a message.

“(There is) no evidence of capability or anyone local responding to this message.”

Australia opened the consulate in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-biggest city, earlier this month.

In May, a series of suicide bombings in Surabaya killed about 30 people, including the attackers.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, the worst in Indonesia for more than a decade.

Since then, Indonesian police have detained nearly 250 suspected militants and killed 21 others.

Indonesia, which has grappled with violent Islamist militancy for almost two decades, is currently hosting the Asian Games.

It has deployed 100,000 military and police to secure the games, which are being held in the capital Jakarta and the city of Palembang on Sumatra island.

Neither the threat on social media, nor the Australian advisory, said that the Asian Games was a target.

Even so, the advisory says the Australian government continues to ‘receive information indicating terrorists may be planning attacks in Indonesia’.

The overall level of Australia’s advice was not changed.

It warns travellers to ‘exercise a high degree of caution’ in Indonesia. — Reuters

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