‘Sabah ready to face fleeing Abu Sayyaf terrorists’
KOTA KINABALU — Sabah is prepared to face the possibility of people from the southern region or the hunted Abu Sayyaf members fleeing to Sabah.
The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) is bracing itself for fleeing Abu Sayyaf terrorists into the state in view of the all-out war declared against them by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Esscom commander DCP Datuk Wan Abdul Bari Abdul Khalid said the state was prepared to face the possibility of the people from the southern region or the hunted Abu Sayyaf members fleeing to Sabah.
He said some of them had already entered the state and have family ties with the local communities in Sabah.
“We are keeping close watch and will take necessary action in due course,” Wan Abdul Bari said.
Welcoming the action taken by the Philippines government against the Abu Sayyaf, he said Esscom was doing all it could to monitor the situation and keep tabs on the latest developments while conducting daily surveillance on the national waters.
He said the Esscom had daily operations on land and sea in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) to ensure that the state stayed safe from any possible threats.
Wan Abdul Bari added that Esscom personnel and assets had been directed to monitor any suspicious movements such as smuggling or possible cross border attacks.
Esszone covers an area of 1,733.7km long and 100, 000 sq km comprising 10 districts namely Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beluran, Kinabatangan, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau.
On Saturday, Duterte declared a nationwide “state of lawlessness” following a deadly explosion at an open-air market in southern Davao City that killed at least 14 people and injured 67 during a presidential visit to his hometown.
It was also reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Friday that the number of Philippines troops hunting the Abu Sayyaf in the southern island province of Sulu was expected to increase to about 9,000 by next week.
It followed shortly after 15 soldiers were killed by the terrorists in fierce clashes earlier this week in Jolo./rga