Santa Maria Church in Surabaya, East Java. Photo: Google Maps
Santa Maria Church in Surabaya, East Java. Photo: Google Maps

A Muslim youth group in Indonesia will join a massive police and army effort to protect churches from terror attacks during the Christmas season.

Around 90,000 police officers and soldiers will be deployed to guard almost 50,000 churches throughout the country. One of them is Santa Maria Church in Surabaya, East Java, which suffered a suicide bombing on May 13.

National Police spokesman Brigadier-General Dedi Prasetyo said security during the Christmas period would be focused on churches in 13 provinces, including in Java, Sumatra and Bali, UCA News reported.

The security coordinator of Santa Maria Church, Francis Xavier Ping Tedja, said the building would be guarded by 70 people, including police officers, soldiers and members of Banser, the youth chapter of the moderate Muslim group Nahdlatul Ulama.

Tedja added that the church would coordinate with the volunteers so Catholics could attend Mass in comfort and safety, and that he hoped people would not be afraid when they go to church.

Authorities have asked worshippers not to bring bags with them when they head to churches for Christmas Mass.

On December 11, the counterterrorism unit Densus 88 arrested two people in Yogyakarta who were allegedly planning a terror attack during Christmas and New Year festivities. Their targeted locations were not disclosed to the public.

The two were also linked to a bomb attack that took place at a building in the city of Indramayu, West Java, in July.

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