Australia says it has discovered evidence that terrorists plan an imminent attack on Western targets in Indonesia. The Australian government has warned its nationals to stay away from places frequented by Westerners.
The new advisory, issued Wednesday, says that Australian authorities have received credible new information suggesting that another terrorist attack is imminent. They say they believe a Hilton Hotel might be the intended target, but have warned people to stay away from all international hotels and other places where foreigners congregate.
The Hilton group runs three hotels in Indonesia, in Jakarta, Bali and the country's second city, Surabaya. A spokesman for the Hilton in Jakarta, Emeraldo Parengkuan, said Wednesday that he had yet to be officially informed of the threat, but that the hotel's management takes it seriously none-the-less.
"When we heard something, even if it was not officially from the government, from the police or from the embassy, but when we heard from public, we will tighten, double tighten the security," he said. "We will coordinate with the police. So we consider this at the moment as serious threat."
Mr. Parengkuan says security was already a high priority, and he pointed out that that the hotel had hosted the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, on Tuesday and the country's vice president on Wednesday.
Heavy security cordons have surrounded all international hotels in Indonesia since terrorists attacked the J.W. Marriott Hotel 16 months ago, killing 12 people.
Indonesia is no stranger to attacks by Islamic militants: more than 200 people have been killed in the past three years in attacks aimed at Westerners. The Australian Embassy was the target of a car bombing three months ago that killed 11 people outside the embassy compound. Most of the attacks were the work of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian group that has close ties to the al-Qaida terror network.
Security is always particularly tight in Indonesia in the run up to Christmas. On Christmas Eve four years ago, J.I. militants bombed 14 churches, killing 19 people. Police say security will again be tight this year.
The latest Australian warning comes a day after Canberra said its Jakarta embassy would reduce its operating hours over the next few weeks because of the terror risk. The Australian government for months has warned its citizens to avoid Indonesia entirely, and to take extra precautions if travel to the country is necessary.