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July 28, 2017

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Indonesia on alert over threat to Borobudur

Police in Central Java have tightened security measures at the Borobudur Temple in Magelang in response to an apparent threat made by Islamic State (IS) supporters to attack the world-renowned cultural-heritage site.

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Ronny F. Sompie said on Friday that aside from tightening security around Borobudur, the Central Java Police had begun poring over data from the Internet for possible clues about the plan.

The threat to attack Borobudur appeared first on social networking platform, Facebook.

"The Central Java Police chief has ordered an investigation into the threat and we expect that there will be cooperation with the temple's security personnel and the Indonesian Military (TNI) to safeguard the temple from any possible damage," he said in Jakarta.

The threat was posted on Aug. 15 on a Facebook account titled "We Are Islamic State."

"God willing, (Borobudur) will be demolished by Islamic caliphate mujahidin!" the Web page declared.

The page also quoted an article from radical website, in which cleric Hartono Ahmad Jaiz derided several statue-construction projects in the country, which he said contravened Islamic principles.

It appears unlikely, however, that or Hartono are involved in the planning of a possible attack on Borobudur, as the website is known for its strong opposition to the IS movement.

Borobudur Conservation Agency head, Marsis Sutopo, said the agency had increased the number of security personnel within and around the temple following the news of the threat.

"We've increased the number of security officers and have coordinated with PT Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur (TWCB, which manages tourism activities at the temple) and the local police," he said on Friday in Magelang.

Earlier, commander of the Diponegoro Military Command Maj. Gen. Sunindyo confirmed his preparedness to back up security around the temple.

Constructed in the ninth century, Borobudur is regarded as the world's largest Buddhist monument and one of the most complex structures erected during that period.

Borobudur was previously the target of a bombing attack.

In 1985, extremists detonated bombs that damaged nine of the stupas at Borobudur.

The police claimed that the attack was perpetrated by Muslim radicals Mohammad Jawad, Abdulkadir bin Ali Alhabsyi and his brother Husein bin Ali Alhabsyi. Jawad has never been captured.

A year after the bombing, Abdulkadir was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his involvement in the attack, while his brother Husein was sentenced to life in 1991.

In 1999, then President BJ Habibie granted clemency for Husein.

In August 2013, security measures around Borobudur were significantly tightened following the bombing of the Buddhist Ekayana Graha Vihara in Jakarta.

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