Malaysia raises security alert after attack in Indonesia

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Inspector-general says more police deployed to public areas after multiple blasts, shootout leave 7 dead in Jakarta

By P Prem Kumar

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysian police raised their alert level to the highest Thursday after multiple explosions and an ensuing shootout with police left at least seven people dead in neighboring Indonesia.

Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement that additional police officers would be deployed to public areas like shopping malls and tourist attractions throughout the country to pre-empt any similar outbreaks of violence.

He added that extra precautionary efforts would be implemented at the borders of Malaysia – which borders Indonesia, as well as Singapore and Thailand by land, and is separated from the Philippines by the Sulu Sea — to prevent possible infiltration by “terrorist” elements.

“Those on our radar as being suspiciously related to terrorist activities will be monitored closely,” said Bakar.

“We wish to assure the public that our personnel nationwide are on constant vigilance and we are closely monitoring latest development to ensure that the safety and security of our people are safeguarded.”

The increased alert status comes after five attackers and two civilians were killed after multiple explosions rocked a popular shopping center in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, resulting in a shootout with anti-terror police forces.

More than a dozen gunmen were reportedly involved, and the National Police spokesperson, Anton Charliyan, acknowledged the possibility that the incident could have included suicide bombings.

Both Southeast Asian countries have been on alert against extremist groups.

Earlier this week, Malaysia’s police force announced that it had arrested 82 people with links to Daesh — 73 of them Malaysians – in the last year alone.

Some 72 Malaysians, including 14 women, have been identified as fleeing Malaysia to join Daesh movements in Iraq and Syria using neighboring countries as transit points.

As of December last year, seven had returned home to arrest.

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