Britain raises terror threat level for East Malaysian resorts, advises against travelling there

Villas at the Pom Pom Island Resort and Spa in Sabah.
Villas at the Pom Pom Island Resort and Spa in Sabah. PHOTO: THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Britain joined Australia and New Zealand in warning citizens against travel to coastal islands in the East Malaysian state of Sabah bordering the Philippines, citing high threats to foreigners of kidnapping and criminality.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office this week raised the terrorism threat level for the islands to "high" from "general", and advised against all but essential travel.

There has been an increase in kidnapping by groups operating in the southern Philippines, some with the ability to conduct kidnaps on the coast of Sabah, the office said, while also citing an earthquake that took place in June and increased instances of haze.

Australia advises its citizens to avoid all travel to the coastal resorts of eastern Sabah, including the islands, dive sites and associated tourist facilities due to the high threat of kidnapping, while New Zealand classifies travel to the area as "high risk".

The US State Department does not have a travel advisory specifically for Malaysia.

In a travel warning for the Philippines updated October 2015, it said US citizens should defer non-essential travel to the Sulu Archipelago, a chain of islands between south Philippines and Sabah, due to the high threat of kidnappings and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism.