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Indonesia temple attacks prompt concern

Security tightened at Buddhist sites, with number of police and guards at the famed Borobudur temple doubled to 418.

Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 09:24
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Fears of fresh attacks at Indonesia's Buddhist sites have prompted a security clampdown, just days after a temple bombing.

The clampdown came as tens of millions of Muslims across the country celebrated the Eid al-Fitr holiday on Thursday.

Security was stepped up at Buddhist sites, with the number of police and guards at the famed Borobudur temple complex in Central Java doubled to 418, according to Purnomo Siswo Prasetyo, a temple official.

"Buddhist temples are one of the key locations we are securing," Ronny Sompie, a national police spokesman, told AFP news agency.

More than 140,000 police had been deployed across the country in the past week to guard against attacks at all sites deemed vulnerable, including Buddhist temples, he said.

The temple bombing, motivated by anger at the plight of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, happened when a small device exploded on Sunday night at the Ekayana temple as hundreds were praying.

Three people were injured in the incident, the Jakarta Post reported.

The explosion stirred fears that radicals could be poised to launch further attacks on one of Islam's holiest days, as they shift from targeting the country's Christian and Muslim minorities to Buddhists.

Sidney Jones, a Jakarta-based terrorism expert from the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, warned there could be further attacks.

"The problem is that temples are unfortunately an easy target, and young militants have always been opportunistic in their actions," she said.

Anger over the Rohingya has escalated in Indonesia in recent months, with police uncovering a plot to bomb the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta in May and hardliners calling for "jihad in Myanmar" during demonstrations.

Two waves of unrest between Muslims and Buddhists in the Rohingya home state of Rakhine last year left many dead and tens of thousands - mainly Rohingya - displaced.

The past week has seen an exodus from cities in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, with people taking to cars, boats and planes to head home to their families across the archipelago of more than 17,000 islands.

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