Top KL tourist areas cited as possible terror targets

A security guard walks past as the sun rises over Malaysia's iconic Twin towers in Kuala Lumpur.
A security guard walks past as the sun rises over Malaysia's iconic Twin towers in Kuala Lumpur. PHOTO: AFP

A Malaysian minister yesterday singled out tourist spots and malls popular with expatriates as likely targets of militants intent on sowing fear and chaos in the country.

This followed the arrest of four suspected local Islamic State in Iraq and Syria members last week.

Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor cited places such as Bukit Bintang and the Kuala Lumpur City Centre, which are popular with tourists.

He also named malls in high-end residential areas that are popular with expatriates, such as Sri Hartamas, Bangsar, Solaris and Mutiara Damansara.

"We are aware of the threats and we are on standby for any possible event," he told reporters.

He added that his ministry might seek assistance from the Defence Ministry to increase security in these areas, if necessary.

His naming of the areas spooked some Klang Valley residents, with several telling The Straits Times they would avoid the hot spots.

Ms Chong Ee Ven, 29, an advertising executive, said she would suggest to her friends that they meet at less crowded locations, adding: "Better be safe than sorry."

A check by The Straits Times at The Curve in Mutiara Damansara yesterday found many patrons at the mall as usual. Several were unaware that the mall had been named as a probable terrorist target.

Said Mr Afeeq Aizudean Abdul Rasol, 30: "If I knew The Curve was on the list, I would not have come here today."

Dismissing Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan's remarks in a statement, the police advised the public to stop sharing news that could cause uneasiness, especially if it did not come from the security forces.

It also noted that the police viewed the spreading of unverified information seriously as it caused extreme unrest among the public.

City police chief Tajudin Md Isa advised people to go about their lives as usual and assured them that it was safe to enter city areas.

"We are not sure where Datuk Seri Adnan got his information from but, as far as we are concerned, security at all public places has been intensified and we are doing all we can to monitor suspicious activities and maintaining public order," Datuk Tajudin was quoted as telling The Star.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, in a Facebook post yesterday, also said that Malaysia would continue to be committed to battling any form of terrorism, racialism and religious extremism.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2016, with the headline 'Top KL tourist areas cited as possible terror targets'. Print Edition | Subscribe