Catholic faithful stand on wooden boats during the sea procession of Good Friday in Larantuka, Indonesia, in this April 18, 2014, file photo. CNS photo/Stringer, EPA

Holy Week security tight in predominantly Catholic Indonesian province

By 
  • March 21, 2016

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Police officials said they were tightening security in predominantly Catholic East Nusa Tenggara province for Holy Week celebrations, reported ucanews.com.

The move comes amid growing fears of a resurgence of Muslim militant activity in Indonesia following the terror attack in Jakarta Jan. 14 in which eight people, including four attackers, were killed.

"Around 1,700 policemen will be deployed. They will work together with military personnel," provincial police spokesman Jules Abraham Abast told ucanews.com March 21. "That's an increase of 700 men on the number of policemen assigned last year."

He said the provincial police chief is determined to prevent any potential threats, including terror attacks.

"We will keep an eye out for any group that might want to attack Catholics attending the celebrations," Abast said.

Many of the Holy Week celebrations, known as Semana Santa in East Nusa Tenggara, will be centreed in Larantuka. Celebrations usually attract more than 10,000 pilgrims.

On Holy Thursday, pilgrims flock to three chapels in Larantuka, where statues of Mary, the baby Jesus and Jesus as adult are placed.

The celebration reaches its peak on Good Friday with a water procession, when a statue of the baby Jesus is carried on a boat and taken to meet Mary at a separate chapel.

Bishop Franciskus Kopong Kung of Larantuka welcomed the ramped up security measures.

"We can't deny that there could be threats," he told ucanews.com.

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