February 15, 2019 / 5:37 AM / 2 months ago

Malaysia arrests six accused of planning attacks, links to militants

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian authorities said on Friday they have arrested six people, including four foreigners, suspected of planning attacks or being members of militant groups.

Malaysia has been on high alert since gunmen allied with Islamic State (IS) carried out a series of attacks in Jakarta, the capital of neighboring Indonesia, in January 2016.

Police said the six were arrested in five separate raids between December and January, on suspicion of planning attacks or having links to militant groups.

“They include two Malaysians and four foreigners from Singapore, Bangladesh, the Philippines and a South Asian country,” Fuzi Harun, police inspector general, said in a statement posted on social media.

The group included a 48-year-old Singaporean accused of planning to attack a building used by Freemasons in the state of Johor. He is believed to have links with Akel Zainal, a Malaysian identified as an IS fighter in Syria, police said.

Police also detained a suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in a separate raid in the eastern state of Sabah, where he worked as a laborer. The 21-year-old suspect is believed have ties with ASG leader Furuji Indama, Fuzi said.

A 28-year-old man from an unidentified South Asian country was arrested during a raid in Selangor state. Interpol had issued a warrant, known as a red notice, for his suspected involvement in criminal and militant activities, Fuzi said.

Malaysia has arrested hundreds of people over the past few years for suspected links to militant groups.

A grenade attack on a bar on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, in June 2016 wounded eight people. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the first such strike on Malaysian soil.

Reporting by Joseph Sipalan; editing by Darren Schuettler

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