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Asian cities ramp up security for New Year celebrations

South-east Asian cities are stepping up security for New Year's Eve celebrations

Revellers in South-east Asian cities will be partying tonight under the watchful eyes of their police and military.

Indonesia, which has been on the offensive against suspected terrorists, is leaving nothing to chance after a series of bloody raids around the country in the past month.

Police spokesman Martinus Sitompul said yesterday that security is always stepped up during the festive season.

"But this time around, it is special because we have had a record number of terrorist raids during the immediate period leading to the 2017 New Year's Eve celebration," he told reporters at a media briefing.

"The police have things under control, but we cannot be 100 per cent confident there won't be any disturbances.

"We can do our utmost, relying on our personnel and equipment, to try to guarantee that the celebration will take place safely and peacefully."

Jakarta police will be paying special attention to key areas.

They include the Ancol recreational park where 270,000 partygoers are expected to congregate; the capital's busiest roads around Thamrin Road and Sudirman Road; and areas outside the city centre where crowds are expected.

More than 155,000 police, soldiers and security personnel will be deployed, and the number could increase depending on the situation, said Colonel Martinus.

Both federal and state police have been on high alert in Malaysia since before Christmas.

Security has been beefed up at malls, entertainment outlets, houses of worship and embassies - places seen as symbolic targets for militants linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

However, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the government was trying 
"not to have too much physical presence in public and focus more on prevention" as "people should feel free to enjoy their holidays".

MAXIMUM ALERT

Similarly, Philippine security officials have been on maximum alert since President Rodrigo Duterte declared a "state of emergency on account of lawless violence", following a terrorist attack that left 14 dead in his southern home city of Davao on Sept 2 this year.

Police have set up mobile checkpoints across metropolitan Manila's 17 cities. Director-general Ronald dela Rosa, the police chief, has cancelled all police breaks from 5pm today to 5am tomorrow.

Philippine security forces have been deployed around bus terminals, train stations, airports and piers, as millions leave cities to head to provinces.

In Thailand, police say some 100,000 police officers will be out patrolling the streets nationwide this new year, especially in crowded tourist spots.

They have prepared their Swat team, medics, explosive ordnance experts as well as aerial back-up to deal with any emergencies.

Deputy police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen told The Straits Times: "We haven't received any intelligence that would lead to a security situation. We remain vigilant."

In India's financial capital, Mumbai, which was targeted by terrorists in 2008, the 55,000-strong police force have set up barricades to check vehicles entering areas popular with revellers.

TARGET

"Every police officer will be deployed. We are targeting grounds, open spaces and areas where there is a large gathering of crowds.

"We have also newly installed CCTV cameras in many places," said Mumbai police official Ashok Tulshiram Dudhe. -THE STRAITS TIMES

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