KOTA KINABALU - At least seven islands in Sabah are being eyed as restricted areas in efforts to strengthen security against cross-border crime.
It is also to curb the influx of illegal immigrants in the east coast.
Sabah Federal Secretary Datuk Borhan Dollah checked out the islands off Semporna - Bohey Dulang, Terumbu Sibangkat, Pulau Selakan, Mantabuan, Pom-Pom, Sibuan and Maiga - and was briefed on security issues.
Borhan was accompanied by Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commando Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun.
"Security forces believe that the seven islands are being used by cross-border criminals as their staging points to carry out kidnapping, smuggling or in bringing in illegal immigrants," Abdul Rashid said, adding that, as such, these islands were better off as restricted areas.
There are 360 islands in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) of which 83 are in Semporna.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, who is the state security council chairman, had agreed for certain islands to be gazetted as restricted areas after a study had been carried out.
Esszone covers districts such as Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beluran, Kinabatangan, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Kunak and Tawau.