North Halmahera Water Police in North Maluku and the Indonesian Navy have stepped up sea patrols in the region amid fears of terror cells infiltrating the country, particularly from the restive South Philippines.
“We have alerted fleets and personnel to intensify patrols and examinations towards every ship which is entering North Halmahera waters,” Ikbal Basahona, Head of Water Police Unit of North Halmahera Police Resort, said as reported by Okezone.
The effort is a precaution against a spillover of the Mindanao crisis in the Philippines, which has seen the ISIS-linked Maute Group besiege Marawi City for over a week. The Halmahera Sea links the two archipelago countries and is seen as a possible gateway for terrorists.
“We are conducting the sea patrol with the Navy in order to prevent the presence of ISIS in Halmahera,” Basahona said.
The North Halmahera Water Police and the Indonesian Navy will investigate all ships in the public harbour that are yet to report to the Harbour Master.
Officers from the Water Police will consult with the local community and fishermen to train them in being cautious and to report incoming unidentified ships or boats.
“We encourage them to report to the nearest sector police if the spotted any suspicious boats or persons,” Basahona said
Military Commander Sachono said the military is anticipating a terrorist network infiltrating the North Maluku area. Comprehensive patrols of the Halmahera region are expected over the coming weeks, focusing particularly on Tobelo City, the nearest North Halmahera territory to Philippine waters.
Image credits: Detik