Wednesday, August 12

ESSCOM ready to face possibility of Abu Sayyaf fleeing to Sabah

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TAWAU: The Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) is ready to face any possibility of Abu Sayyaf terrorists fleeing to Sabah, says ESSCOM commander DCP Datuk Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid.

This followed the announcement by the Philippines government to eliminate the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in southern Philippines on a large scale.

“We welcome the action taken by the government of the Philippines and we are prepared to face the possibility of the people from the southern region or  hunted Abu Sayyaf members fleeing to Sabah,” he told Bernama here yesterday.

He was asked on the commitment and efforts taken by the Philippines government to eliminate the Abu Sayyaf in that country.

Wan Abdul Bari said ESSCOM noted and followed developments on the matter and daily operations to monitor the national waters, which would be ongoing at sea and on land in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZONE).

He said ESSCOM personnel and assets had been directed to monitor any suspicious movements such as smuggling activities or the possibility of cross border attacks.

“On land, we conduct weekly operations of three to four days, some have already entered Sabah as we also know that some of them may have family ties with the population in this state,” he added.

ESSZONE covers an area of 1,733.7km long and 100,000 sq km comprising 10 districts — Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beluran, Kinabatangan, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau.

Yesterday, Philippine Daily Inquirer reported the number of Philippine troops running after the Abu Sayyaf in the southern island province of Sulu was expected to swell to about 9,000 by next week.

It followed shortly after 15 soldiers were slain by the

Abu Sayyaf in fierce clashes this week in Jolo, it added. — Bernama