Australia seeks regional terrorism cooperation after Jakarta attack

Military armoured personnel carriers are seen near the site of an attack in central Jakarta January 14, 2016.

Military armoured personnel carriers are seen near the site of an attack in central Jakarta January 14, 2016.

Australia is seeking regional cooperation to fight the “menace” of violent extremism that will be with the region for some time, the country’s justice minister said on Saturday.

A deadly Jan. 14 attack in Jakarta that killed eight people and an August bombing in Bangkok that ripped through a popular shrine killing 20 people, most of them foreign tourists, have injected new urgency for regional counter-terrorism efforts.

“The region is subject to the same threats as the globe is and that is there is a malignant organization that has established itself in the Middle East, ISIS, and they continue to export terror around the globe,” Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan told Reuters in Bangkok during a visit with his Thai counterparts to discuss security issues.

Keenan, who is also Counter-Terrorism Minister, said Australia stood ready to share its expertise with regional governments.

“If we can make those relationships stronger then we should seek to do so because this menace is going to be with us for some time and the more we can do to collaborate, to address it, the safer our people will be.”

Jakarta’s gun and bomb attack was claimed by ISIS, the radical group’s first assault on Indonesia.

Keenan said Australia has updated its travel warning for Indonesia but has not changed the threat level which remains to “exercise a high degree of caution”.

Jakarta has said it is working to stem the flow of Southeast Asian militants travelling to and from Syria and Iraq but police say the nation’s porous border makes it easy for people to be smuggled into Indonesia.

“We don’t want to change the open nature of our society. We like the fact that this is a very busy region with people passing through,” said Keenan.



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