KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia has deported eight suspected members of the notorious Abu Sayyaf group who were arrested in Beaufort earlier this month.They were handed over to the Philippine security forces in international waters located between Sandakan and Taganak island in southern Philippines yesterday.
Sandakan Immigration enforcement officer Muhammad Isa Hasley officially handed over the eight men wanted by the Philippines for involvement in murders and kidnappings besides other criminal activities.
The deportation of the suspects was announced on the Eastern Sabah Security Command’s (Esscom) Facebook page.
Among those present at the event were Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hazani Ghazali and Esscom commander Deputy Comm Datuk Ahmad Fuad Othman.
Among those from the Philippines were Tawi Tawi joint task force commander Brig Gen Arturo Rojas and 4th Marine Brigade Commander for Sulu Col Hernaine Sungano.
The eight Abu Sayyaf sub-commander were Sansibar Bencio, Hamzah Faizal, Ladin Faizal, Munimar Binda, Firdaus Omar, Sansis Mohamad, Halim Akhir and Yusof Akram.
They were arrested along with their family members, who were hiding out at a swamp area in Beaufort, on May 8.
Five other members of the group, including another sub-leader, were killed in a shootout with police a week later at the same hideout in Beaufort. They were not linked to any crimes in Malaysia.
Hazani said the eight were deported in accordance with the Immigration Act.
He said Sabah police would remain alert to Abu Sayyaf members trying to flee into the state and that they were still tracking down any remnant members of the group hiding in Sabah.
He added that a total of 83 people, believed to be members of terrorist groups, had been arrested in Sabah since 2014.