US govt has right to warn its citizens: Indonesian VP

Vice President Jusuf Kalla has said it is the prerogative of the US government to warn its citizens about the security situation in Surabaya, East Java, although it is actually quite safe to visit.

"Never mind. Maybe it [the travel warning] was issued based on its intelligence reports. For us, there is no problem with that, that's their right," he said as quoted by Antara news agency in Jakarta on Monday.

The Vice President further said as with governments in other countries, including the US, Indonesia also had the right to issue travel warnings for Indonesian citizens abroad if the government considered conditions warranted it.

The US Embassy in Jakarta has issued a warning to Americans about a potential threat to US-associated banks and hotels in Surabaya.

An embassy spokesperson said, as quoted by The Associated Press on Sunday, that there was nothing to link the warning with AirAsia Flight 8501 that crashed into the waters of the Karimata Strait while en route from Surabaya to Singapore, on Dec.28, with the loss of all 162 passengers and crew on board.

No details were provided about the alert issued to US citizens on Saturday.

Responding to the alert, Kalla said Indonesia's domestic situation was currently quite safe, with no recorded disturbances.

"What do you think about it? Have you seen any trouble occurring in our country? It was only the AirAsia incident that raised a lot of concerns," the Vice President said.

There was nothing to be worried about, including in Surabaya, he added.

Police confirm no terror threat in Surabaya

Despite a recent warning issued by the US Embassy about a possible major security threat in the East Java city of Surabaya, the National Police confirmed on Sunday they had found no evidence indicating any terrorism activities were being planned to target the country's second-largest city.

"There's nothing to worry about since the intelligence assessment carried out by the National Police's head of intelligence and security department has so far found that there are no public order disruptions [in Surabaya] related to any terror plot," National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Ronny F. Sompie told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

On Saturday, the US Embassy in Jakarta posted an announcement on its official website warning its citizens of a potential threat against US-associated hotels and banks in Surabaya.

"The US Embassy has been made aware of a potential threat against US-associated hotels and banks in Surabaya, Indonesia. The US Embassy recommends heightened vigilance and awareness of one's surroundings when visiting such facilities," the embassy said without elaborating.

According to Ronny, despite the absence of a major threat indication, National Police chief Gen. Sutarman instructed the East Java Police to increase their vigilance and raise community awareness.

"The police expect all parties to be cooperative by contacting and informing [us] about any developments that could lead to public order disruptions, including those initiated by terrorists," Ronny said.

Indonesia, which has a Muslim-majority population, has been subjected to a series of deadly attacks by religious hard-liners, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

It is also considered one of the biggest supplying areas of Islamic State (IS) movement fighters, after the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) reported that more than 500 Indonesians supported the group in the civil war raging in Syria and Iraq.

Last month, the Malaysian authorities deported 12 Indonesians, mostly from East Java, who were allegedly on their way to Syria to support IS.

Several days later, a four-minute YouTube video went viral, showing an alleged IS member issuing a threat in Indonesian against the Indonesian Military (TNI), specifically TNI commander Gen. Moeldoko, the National Police and the Ansor's civilian security guards (Banser), a youth wing of Indonesia's largest Muslim organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama.

The man in the video was later identified as Salim Mubarok Attamimi, a milk vendor from Malang, a city located some 90-kilometers south of Surabaya.

Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini also quickly rebuffed the embassy's security alert.

"Nothing happened. Insya Allah [God willing] Surabaya will stay safe and conducive," she told reporters on Sunday.