KOTA KINABALU - Security forces are boosting their defences in the wake of Tuesday's suspected Abu Sayyaf-linked attempt to rob a Sabah fishing boat in border waters of the southern Philippines.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman said that although the attack and attempted robbery on the all-Vietnamese crew did not happen within the country's territorial waters off Pulau Banggi, there was a need to take precautions to secure the northern front.
"Our defences are moving towards the north and this is going to be our focus for now," he said when responding to reporters on whether cross-border criminals, especially from the Philippines, were shifting their target towards northern Sabah waters amid tight security in the east.
In the incident, two of the 10 Vietnamese crew members were shot at by four masked Filipino gunmen.
"However, the incident happened outside Malaysian waters, so we will send a report to Interpol as well as the Philippines government to facilitate their investigations into the case," he said after witnessing the handing over of duties from state commercial crime chief Supt Saiman Kasran to Deputy Supt Md Razif Alang Mat Jaya at the police headquarters in Kepayan here.
The two injured crew members are recovering at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The crew managed to evade the gunmen and reach here to seek police assistance on Wednesday.
Jalaluddin reminded fishermen not to endanger themselves by venturing out of Malaysian waters.
"Sabah police will not be able to guarantee their safety should they do so," he added.
On major changes in most top positions in the Sabah police force in the past five months, Jalaluddin, who himself took over as state police chief on June 30, said he hoped these changes would assist in improving security and crime-fighting efforts in the state.