Eight Abu Sayyaf members including their wives and children have been arrested in an operation at a mangrove swamp in Beaufort, Sabah.
The eight arrested include two men on the Philippines’ wanted list. These suspects are allegedly tied to terrorist group Isis, according to Police Commissioner Datuk Hazani Ghazali.
However, he also added that it was likely that these suspects were not linked to kidnap-for-ransom crimes in Sabah.
According to The Star, it was believed that the suspects had escaped to Malaysia following an aggressive encounter with security forces in the Southern Philippines.
The raid took place on May 8 at 3am near Taman Seri Arjuna in Beaufort with the help of Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom).
“We believe they have been here for over a year, based on the history of the Philippine military offensive,” he said.
The two men on the Philippines’ wanted list are Sansibar Besion, in his 40s, and Muayyar Binda, in his 30s.
Police are now trying to determine how they came into Sabah as well as identify their local contacts and motives for being here.
Hazani added that 21 children of the suspects were familiar with the use of a finger sign known to be a loyalty symbol to a terror group.
District police have been informed to check squatter areas and new colonies in swamps to find out if there are more fugitives hiding in Sabah.