Safety and Security
Since 2005, the Indonesian police and security forces have disrupted a number of terrorist cells, including Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a U.S. government-designated terrorist organization that carried out several bombings at various times from 2000 to 2012. Indonesia suffered its worst terrorist attack in 2002, when more than 200 foreign tourists and Indonesian citizens were killed in Bali. Deadly car bombs have exploded outside hotels and resorts frequented by Westerners in Jakarta and Bali in 2003 and 2005 and outside of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta in 2004. In July 2009, JI-affiliated elements bombed two Western hotels in Jakarta, killing nine Indonesians and foreigners and injuring over 50, including six U.S. citizens. Since these attacks, Indonesia has effectively pursued counterterrorism efforts through legislation and law enforcement. In 2010, security forces arrested more than 100 individuals on terrorism-related charges. However, violent elements in Indonesia continue to demonstrate a willingness and ability to carry out violent attacks with little or no warning.
Regionally, terrorist cells and insurgents have targeted police stations and officers. In October 2012, two police officers were found assassinated in Poso, Sulawesi. In November 2012, there were various armed attacks on police stations and officers in Central Java, including a bomb found in Pasar Kliwon Police Precinct, Surakarta. Fortunately, many of these attacks failed due to Indonesian National Police (INP) intervention.
Extremists may target both official and private interests, including hotels, nightclubs, shopping areas, and restaurants. Whether at work, pursuing daily activities, and/or while traveling, you should be vigilant and prudent at all times. Monitor local news reports, vary your routes and times, and maintain a low profile. Be sure to consider the security and safety preparedness of hotels, residences, restaurants, and entertainment or recreational venues that you frequent.
In November 2009, unknown assailants shot at foreigners in Banda Aceh, North Sumatra, an area that was devastated by the 2004 tsunami and the scene of a long-running separatist conflict that ended in 2005. The gunfire wounded a European development worker. In the same area, a house occupied by U.S. citizen teachers was targeted and hit by gunfire, but there were no U.S. citizen casualties.
Be aware that a real or even perceived offense may generate a negative or even violent response from local people. For example, in June 2008, two U.S. citizens in western Sumatra were beaten after they reportedly accused a local man of theft. In the same month, another U.S. citizen in Sumatra was threatened by members of a local mosque when he complained about being awakened from his sleep by the morning call to prayer.
Demonstrations are common in Jakarta and throughout Indonesia. Common areas for protest activity in Jakarta include both the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle and the U.S. Embassy. While these demonstrations are usually peaceful and police presence is normally sufficient to maintain order, demonstrations have occasionally become violent, particularly when involving issues related to religion. In the past, anti-American demonstrations at the Embassy have been sparked by U.S. foreign policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other issues related to the Middle East, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
From September through November 2012, significant protest activity occurred throughout the region following the release of “Innocence of Muslims,” a video that depicted extremely anti-Islamic sentiment.
We advise that people avoid large crowds and other gatherings that could turn violent.
Localized political violence and civil unrest due to ethnic, sectarian, religious and separatist reasons is not uncommon in various parts of the country. Religious and ethnic violence is common in Central Sulawesi. Papua harbors a persistent separatist movement, which includes a small number of armed Free Papua Movement guerillas who have attacked Indonesian government targets and personnel in the Puncak Jaya area of the Papuan highlands, and security forces continue to pursue separatist guerillas there. In the area between Timika and the copper and gold mine of Grasberg in Papua, there have also been over 30 shooting incidents between 2009 and early 2012 by unknown gunmen who were targeting Indonesian security personnel employees, and contractors of a U.S. multi-national mining company.
Indonesia's location on the "Ring of Fire" often results in severe seismic events that can pose grave threats, and disrupt daily life and regional air travel. When these events occur, there is typically little to no warning and Indonesian emergency response capabilities are limited in the best of circumstances. U.S. citizens must prepare for unforeseen emergencies when living or traveling in Indonesia.
If you have an Indonesian cell phone you may sign up to receive U.S. Embassy emergency text message alerts by composing a text message on your cell phone utilizing the following format:
REGALRTLASTNAME#FIRSTNAME, e.g. REGALRTDOE#JOHN;
Send to 9388 from your Indonesian cell phone and you will receive a text message confirmation of enrollment. Please note that you will be charged RP1000 per SMS Alert Message.
Please maintain up-to-date travel documents and personal papers in the event you must depart Indonesia quickly in an emergency. Travel distances, poor communications, and inadequate infrastructure make it extremely difficult for the Embassy to respond to U.S. citizen emergencies in some areas. Many parts of Indonesia (including many tourist destinations) are isolated and difficult to reach or contact.