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IGP: Tawau route widely used due to its strategic location

KUALA LUMPUR: The sea route around Tawau is busy and often used for numerous activities – including for trade and fishing – due to its strategic location, says Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar (pic).

The Inspector-General of Police said it was possible that militants also use the same route to get to southern Philippines as Tawau is located between Indonesia and the Philippines.

He also denied that Sabah was a transit point for terrorists.

“The militants converge in southern Philippines because that’s where training is conducted.

“They pass through Tawau, not because Sabah is a transit point for militants, but because that route is bustling with economic activity and people travelling.

“There are many fishing vessels and merchant boats in the area. It is easier for militants to mask their movements when it is busy,” he explained.

Khalid said cross-border criminals used the same route, but gave assurance that the police had informants in the area helping them monitor movements.

He also said police are working closely with their Philippine counterparts to track down former Universiti Malaya lecturer and militant Dr Mahmud Ahmad.

Dr Mahmud had been tasked by Islamic State (IS) to arrange the safe passage of new recruits from Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Myanmar to Marawi City, Mindanao in the southern Philippines.

Khalid said police are waiting for the right time to take action against Dr Mahmud, who is currently hiding in the Philippines.-thestar

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