Singapore: Catholic churches on high terror alert ahead of Christmas day celebration

Police have beefed up the security as 200,000 are expected to attain the midnight mass on Christmas day

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Representational image of a church Reuters

Singapore police stepped up security at all the Roman Catholic churches in the Lion City ahead of Christmas day celebration on 24 and 25 December. It is also reported that around 200,000 Catholic Christians are expected to attend the midnight mass on this year's Christmas day.

According to Channel News Asia, church staff and volunteers were being trained to handle tense situations by SGSecure since November 2016. "Each one has in their own ways come for briefing and training ... supported by MHA and the police force, who have given us some advice and proper training a month ago," said the Roman Catholic Archdiocese Singapore's Vicar General Philip Heng, according to the news agency.

He also said that each church will have its own system which will be set up by its own administrative body and own volunteer who understand the concerns best. Moreover, members of the church who possess relevant expertise, like retired or active police officers or medical personnel, are expected to head emergency services in case of an unexpected event.

"In a worship environment of the Catholic Church, with some 200,000 people coming to worship, there is certainly a need to have such provision of security, so that the people who come can then worship in peace, without feeling the tension and the anxiety of the situation," Msgr Heng added.

This decision comes amidst terror threats that have become increasing common in the Southeast Asian countries. In Indonesia, police very recently foiled a plot to blast the state palace in the capital city of Jakarta.

Also read: Jakarta police foil State Palace attack plot, detonate powerful bomb

Moreover, an attack on the Berlin Christmas market has left a dozen people dead and several wounded. Also in Australia, military forces thwarted a terror plot that targeted gathering in crowded placed like Flinders Street Station and St Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne.