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Indonesia On Alert For Cyanide Attack

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JAKARTA: Indonesia is anticipating all forms of terror attacks, including the use of cyanide to poison military and police personnel, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Luhut Pandjaitan, has said.

“We have considered various forms of threats and we are prepared to face such a possibility (of cyanide poisoning),” Luhut told reporters in Jakarta.

The minister’s remarks came a day after the national police chief, General Badrodin Haiti, said police had picked up intelligence that some militants were planning to put cyanide in food to be served to police and military personnel.

In a recent circular sent to all provincial police chiefs across Indonesia, Badrodin stressed that police offices must issue regular reminders to their personnel about a leaked plan by the militants to use food packages containing cyanide-laced contents.

The militants, Badrodin said, borrowed the idea from the much-reported murder of Mirna Salihin, a 27-year-old who died soon after drinking iced coffee that her friend had ordered at a cafe early last month. Police later found that the drink contained cyanide.

The suspicious death received much media attention, especially after investigations pointed to the friend, Jessica Kumala Wongso, 27, as the murder suspect.

The Australian permanent resident has been charged with premeditated murder but insists that she is innocent.

Badrodin said that the militants were targeting police and military personnel, especially those involved in anti-terror raids and activities.

Militants in Indonesia have increasingly targeted the police as consistent security crackdowns have disrupted their ability to launch effective attacks against Western targets.

Between 2005 and 2009, 12 policemen were killed and 19 others injured by terrorists, while the figures more than doubled from 2010 to 2014, with 25 policemen killed and 48 others injured, according to Jakarta-based terrorism analyst Adhe Bhakti, of the Centre for Radicalism and Deradicalisation Study.

In the Jan 14 terror attack in Jakarta that killed eight people, including the four attackers, the targets were a police post and a Starbucks outlet, where more than two dozen people were injured.

It would not be the first time that militants or religious radicals were planning to use poison against the Indonesian police.

In 2012, computer service technician Santhanam, who became radicalized after watching films and books promoting violent ideology, launched a mission to poison the police.

His group chose a few targets, including a roadside hawker stall just outside a police station in the Kemayoran area in Central Jakarta. Santhanam and an accomplice were arrested as they put cyanide in chili pots at the hawker stall. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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