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photo: theborneopost

Singapore on alert after 6 suspects arrested in Batam over rockets plot

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said this afternoon (5 August) that the police and other agencies have stepped up inland and border security measures, after six terror suspects were arrested for suspicion of trying to hit Marina Bay in Singapore with rockets fired from Batam.

"In response to this threat and the prevailing security situation, Police and other agencies have been stepping up inland and border security measures," revealed a ministry spokesperson..

MHA said it is aware of the attack plan and has been working with the Indonesian authorities since the discovery of the plot.

"Our security agencies have been coordinating closely with the Indonesian authorities since the discovery of this attack plot, to monitor the activities of the group and to apprehend those involved,"

"We are grateful for the good co-operation by the Indonesian authorities and their actions to apprehend the group."

The suspects, aged 19 to 46, were arrested on Friday morning by Special Detachment 88, Indonesia's elite counter-terrorism squad. They were part of a terror cell called [email protected], according to a statement from Indonesia's national police.

“This development highlights the seriousness of the terrorism threat to Singapore, and the importance of the SGSecure national movement. The public are advised to remain vigilant.”

"This does not come as a surprise," said Mr Shanmugam. "I have spoken several times, about plans being made in places just outside Singapore, to target Singapore – we were serious about the threats. The attacks can come from terrorists who seek to come into Singapore; and they can come from terrorists who locate themselves just outside Singapore. Our small size increases these risks."

He also thanked the Indonesian authorities for taking action, and said the arrests highlighted the importance of cooperation between countries.

Mr Shanmugam added, "Next week, during National Day, I will be in Indonesia, for a security conference, chaired by Indonesia and attended by Ministers from this region,"

"Our people have to be extra alert. We have to emphasise the importance of SGSecure, and the role that everyone has to play."

Neither the Singapore nor the Indonesian authorities have given clues as to what type of rocket the suspects had tried to use, or if the Indonesian police managed to recover the weapon. Singapore and Batam are less than 30km apart at the nearest point.

map batam-sing_
Yellow dots on Batam where the suspects were arrested

Indonesian police said that the six have been trying to harbour two Uyghurs, one of whom has been deported. The other one, identified as Ali, is suspected linked to Nur Rohman, a militant who carried out a suicide attack in Solo, Indonesia, in July. Ali has been detained alongside another militant Abu Mus'ab, who had allegedly sheltered Nur Rohman.

In a comment posted on Facebook, Deputy Prime Minster Teo Chee Hean called on Singaporeans to stay vigilant.

"This shows the seriousness of the threat we face, we are grateful for the good co-operation by the Indonesian authorities and their actions to apprehend the group," said Mr Teo.

"In response to this threat and the prevailing security situation, Police and other agencies have been stepping up inland and border security measures," he added.

"This development highlights the seriousness of the terrorism threat to Singapore, and the importance of the SG Secure national movement."

"All of us must remain vigilant," Mr Teo said.

From the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing also posted comments on Facebook, calling the plot "extremely serious".

"It is something that we have been concerned for a long time. With the proliferation of such weapons, coupled with radical terrorist ideology, we can never take our security for granted," wrote Mr Chan.

"We must always remember that we have to get it right, first time every time, all the time; while the attackers only need to get it right one time, anytime. Our safeguard is eternal vigilance by our security agencies and every Singaporean," he added.

"Even should they ever succeed in their plot, we must never let them destroy our unity or deprive us of our normalcy,"