On full alert in Sabah

On full alert in Sabah
A Filipino soldier observing rebel movements in Zamboanga.

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia - Malaysian security forces will not leave anything to chance as they secure the nation's border of the coast of Sabah.

Not even those who claim to be fleeing from troubled southern Philippines.

Director-general of the Eastern Sabah Security Command Datuk Mohammad Mentek said no one would be spared if they were found without any valid documents.

"Whoever they are, as long as they on our side of the border illegally they will be stopped," he said on the possibility of people fleeing following the attack in Zamboanga by the Moro National Liberation Front on Monday.

Mohammad said Esscom along with the security forces, such as the police and the armed forces had been on full alert since the attacks. "Zamboanga is also rather far from us, but still we will not be complacent, we will be on high alert for any spillover. "Our men are out there on the lookout at strategic outposts but we are also maintaining a strong presence along the sea routes used by people who regularly travel between the two countries." Mohammad reiterated that claims reported in the Philippine media about 4,000 Sulu followers in Sabah and Sarawak were baseless. A senior military official from the Philippines said if there were any people fleeing to Sabah, it would be civilians and not MNLF followers.

"Some of those in the south have families in Sabah and they would probably seek refuge there. There would also be other displaced civilians who may try to flee to Sabah and wait for things to calm down.

"As for the militants, if they were to flee, the Sulu archipelago would be a better option for them because it has always been their sanctuary."

MNLF Islamic Command Council chairman Habib Hashim said he had yet to receive any reports about people fleeing to Sabah.

"The feedback I get is that there are those who fled to where the government forces are, especially those from Zamboanga. If there are are any caught in Sabah waters by the Malaysian authorities, these are probably people who go there regularly for work or trade."

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