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Monday, January 18, 2016

Police assure security in Sabah under control

KOTA KINABALU - Sabah remains on high alert for militant threats although police have given the assurance that security in the state is under control.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun urged people not to be unduly worried over resurfacing concerns of militant activities here in the wake of the Jakarta bombings last week.

“From all the intelligence gathered, there is no threat as yet but we are constantly monitoring the situation with other security agencies,” he said after attending an event with Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman at the state police headquarters’ shooting range yesterday.

Security forces here have been on alert since last month after leaked intelligence reports claimed that Abu Sayyaf terrorists and members of other extremist groups in the southern Philippines had slipped into the state and were planning suicide bombings in Sabah, including in the state capital.

However, former police commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman downgraded the reports, saying they were just rumours.

Anxieties over the threat have re-emerged after the recent suicide bomb attacks in Jakarta, which killed seven people, five of whom were suicide bombers, while dozens were injured.

The Abu Sayyaf terror group is not known for suicide bombings but involvement in cross-border kidnappings for ransom.

However, security agencies fear that Abu Sayyaf may be changing its operations like with other terror organisations linked to Islamic State (IS).

Acting Comm Abdul Rashid declined to comment on IS but assured the public that police were working with all security and intelligence agencies to ensure no Jakarta-type bombings would happen here.

He said it was best to verify with police over rumours that some militants had entered the state through Tawau.

“Do not spread rumours or listen to anything that is not confirmed.

“We have strengthened our forces in the state and are working closely with the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) on this matter,” he said.

In October last year, Defence Minister Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein said there was no credible evidence that IS militant groups had gained a foothold in Sabah’s east coast.

He said security forces would, however, remain vigilant because Sabah’s east coast faced numerous threats from cross-border criminals who could also be militants from the southern Philippines.

Hishammuddin said the Govern­ment focused on preventing IS militants from establishing a regional base in the Sulu Sea.

Earlier at the event, Musa expressed his condolences to victims of the Jakarta blasts.

He urged the public to cooperate with security forces in safeguarding the sovereignty of the state.

He said security forces should also remain vigilant and committed to preserve peace and harmony in the state.

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