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ICC Note: The terrorist bombings have gone down but the mastermind behind them is still at large. This could mean some serious attacks against Christians in the next few months.

Jakarta credits police for curbing bombings

12/228/06 Indoneisa (Golf Times) Indonesia has cut to zero the number killed by terror bombings in 2006, after security forces disrupted Islamic militants who managed big attacks in each of the past four years, a senior security official said.

Chief security minister Widodo Adi Sutjipto said yesterday that hard work by the police and broader efforts to address social and economic ills lay behind the success. “I think our steps to prevent, arrest and uncover the terrorism networks have successfully caused the reduction,” Sutjipto told reporters ahead of an operation to protect New Year’s Eve and the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, both marked this weekend.

He said there were 19 terrorist bombings in 2005, with 49 dead and 183 wounded. To date in 2006, there have been 17 blasts, with none killed and four injured.

“We have to be objective in seeing and sensing that this year conditions have been more conducive (to security).”

Western governments and analysts have praised Indonesia for disrupting Islamic militants, who managed a series of major attacks between 2002 and 2005, beginning with the first Bali blasts that killed 202 people. There has been no comparable attack in 2006, a fact that raises doubts about the militants’ boast of at least one such bombing each year.

“There is no question that the radical elements are under pressure,” said one Australian security analyst who asked not to be named. “The Indonesians have done a good job, particularly in disrupting their financing and logistics. “How long it continues, no one really knows.”

More than 190 militants have been convicted in connection with violent attacks and five sentenced to death, the head of Indonesia ’s counter-terrorism desk said earlier this month.

However, suspected master bomber Noordin Top remains at large.

Experts say car bombs, the weapon of choice in Indonesia , are almost prohibitively expensive and require expertise the militants have struggled to replace after a series of arrests and shootouts with security forces.

That analysis, while widely shared, did not prevent both Australia and the United States from issuing pre-Christmas security alerts for their citizens in Indonesia . “There is a credible threat of terrorist attack in Indonesia during the Christmas and New Year period,” Australia ’s Department of Foreign Affairs said in a travel warning on December 21.

US authorities issued a similar alert, although neither government would specify the nature of the threat. Security analysts said the move appeared designed to inoculate the two governments in case of a bombing over the holidays. Some diplomats in Jakarta privately agreed.

Indonesian authorities, meanwhile, are fearful their successes over the past year or more are being overlooked.

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