KOTA KINABALU: The dawn-to-dusk curfew in Sabah's east coast has been extended another two weeks from Tuesday (March 12), amid continuing threats from Abu Sayyaf-linked cross-border kidnap groups and other criminal elements.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah said that the extension until March 27 was necessary due to the continuing threat of kidnap-for-ransom groups and other criminals from neighbouring Philippines.
Security forces in the east coast of Sabah remain on alert along its borders.
The latest extension comes amid reports that the Abu Sayyaf gunmen behind kidnap-for-ransom groups are seeking value targets along the southern Philippines Tawi Tawi chain of islands that straddles Sabah’s east coast.
In statement Monday (March 11), Comm Omar said there was a need to continue the curfew in the east coast waters to prevent the encroachment of terrorists and criminals who can threaten the safety of locals, international researchers, and tourists.
"We have intelligence reports indicating that kidnap-for-ransom groups and Abu Sayyaf militants are still trying to commit cross-border crimes.
"We also want to ensure the safety of the people of Sabah who use the waters and are staying near Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone)," he added.
Comm Omar said that the curfew would allow better enforcement and monitoring of the movements of boats and vessels in the area.
The presence of a security team would also help establish a sense of security among nearby chalet owners and fishermen.
"All district police chiefs have been authorised to issue permits to eligible applicants who fit the criteria to conduct fishing activities in the areas affected by the curfew," he added.
Sabah's east coast curfew was first implemented in July 19, 2014, following a series of kidnappings that year.
It has remained in place with security forces stating that it was needed to ensure high security was in place in the area that borders the southern Philippines islands of Tawi Tawi.
Two separate cross-border kidnappings involving fishermen occurred on Sept 11 and Dec 5, 2018, within Sabah’s east coast border waters.