KUALA LUMPUR: The Islamic State (IS) militants currently battling the Philippine army in Marawi are not a threat to Sabah, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Shahidan Kassim said there has been no arrest made in Sabah of any IS militants from southern Philippines, especially from Marawi City, which is located on the island of Mindanao.
“There are no security threats there,” Shahidan (BN-Arau) said in a written reply.
The Umno minister was replying to Ewon Ebin from Ranau who asked about the measures taken by the Eastern Sabah Security Command (EssCom) to ensure militants fleeing the fighting in Marawi will not enter Sabah.
Shahidan said ESSCom had increased its surveillance through intensive patrolling, and also conducted coordinated patrolling together with the Philippines’ security team, in addition to increasing its monitoring and checks in areas suspected to be landing spots for illegal immigrants in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (EssZone).
Mindanao was placed under martial law by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte after a surprise attack on Marawi on May 23 by IS militants.
Almost 200,000 residents of Marawi have been evacuated but more than 500 civilians are said to be still trapped there or held hostage. Government forces are still trying to dislodge the terrorists.
The seizure of Marawi by fighters allied to IS has raised alarm bells in neighbouring countries, including Malaysia, with the authorities on the alert for spillover effects that may arise from the fighting.
Malaysia has so far sent humanitarian aid, including food and medical supplies to the Philippine army, and has announced plans to send the Malaysian Armed Forces medical team including clean water and an Armed Forces Religious Corp team.