12 nabbed in Malaysia for 'plotting civil unrest'
MALAYSIAN police said they have arrested 12 people plotting to sow civil unrest and seized explosives yesterday, just one day before the country hosts the 26th Asean Summit.
National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said the suspects were arrested in a western suburb of Kuala Lumpur.
"The suspects are believed to be planning to cause civil unrest in the country," Inspector-General of Police Khalid said in a post on the official Malaysia police Facebook page.
He gave no details on the items seized or the backgrounds of those detained, nor did he make any link to the diplomatic gathering.
Police counter-terrorism officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Malaysia plans to call for regional anti-terror cooperation among all 10 Asean members at the summit, which opens today.
Over the past year, the Muslim-majority nation has announced a series of arrests that the authorities say have involved suspected supporters of the extremist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.
The Malaysian police say dozens of its citizens have gone to Syria to join ISIS, and have warned of radicals returning to stage attacks on home soil.
Early this month, the police said they arrested 17 ISIS-inspired militants who were plotting to kidnap unspecified high-profile figures, rob banks and launch terror attacks.
A day later, the government passed an anti-terrorism law that allows the police to hold suspects without judicial review virtually indefinitely.
The law has drawn fire from the parliamentary opposition and human-rights groups, who say the long-ruling government has a history of using security laws against political opponents.
The government has promised that the law would not be abused for political ends. But opposition lawmakers complain that the authorities have shared no details with them on the dozens of claimed arrests or the extent of the purported terror threat.