Five arrested for suspected militant activities in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Five people were arrested by the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) on suspicion of their involvement in militant activities in the state.

Esscom Commander Deputy Comm Datuk Victor Sanjos said the suspects were hauled in during a series of operations last year.

Based on probes by Bukit Aman’s Special Branch, he said, a total of 13 individuals have been listed as wanted by the police.

These people are believed to be involved in militant activities as well as cross-border crimes in the region, he said.

“Esscom is regularly keeping an eye on potential threats including their activities to ensure they do not enter the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (EssZone),” he added on Wednesday (Jan 31).

Since the establishment of Esscom in March 2013, DCP Sanjos said, the agency has managed to thwart activities by militant groups such as the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and kidnap for ransom groups (KFRG) on land and at sea through a string of special integrated operations.

This was achieved through information sharing with intelligence bodies in the Philippines and Indonesia, he added.

He said 20 members of the ASG have been shot dead since 2015 while 17 members of either the ASG or KFRG had been arrested.

“Besides that, we have foiled 12 attempts of kidnapping and robbery between 2014 and 2018,” he added.

DCP Sanjos noted that, however, 21 kidnapping cases involving 58 victims had taken place in the EssZone.

The hostages consisted of 16 Malaysians while the remaining 42 were from Indonesia, the Philippines, China and Taiwan, he said, with the last kidnapping occurring on Jan 14, 2020.

He said 43 hostages had already been released after their ransom were paid while eight were rescued by Philippine forces.

He added, however, six hostages were found dead or killed while another was missing.

“The Esszone relatively remains stable without any kidnapping incident between February 2020 and December 2023,” DCP Sanjos said.