Malaysian police detain five more over alleged links to Sri Lanka rebel group

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian police have detained five more men over alleged links to the Sri Lankan Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) separatist group.

Sources said the men were detained in Malacca, Penang and Selangor on Saturday (Oct 12) by the Counter-Terrorism Division (E8).

"Two suspects were arrested in Melaka, two in Penang and one in Selangor. Authorities believe they have been supporting the terror group," a source told The Star on Saturday.

The suspects were detained under the Security Offences Special Measures Act (Sosma) 2012.

The police is expected to hold a special press conference on Sunday (Oct 13) to address the matter.

On Thursday, seven men, including two politicians, were detained for their involvement in supporting LTTE.

The police did not name the suspects, but the Democratic Action Party (DAP), a member of Malaysia's ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH), confirmed in a statement that two of its assemblymen were arrested.

Also among those detained was a man who planned an attack on the Sri Lankan High Commission in the city.

Malaysia has listed the LTTE as a terrorist organisation since 2014 amid reports of attempts to revive the group from abroad.

In 2009, the Sri Lankan government ended a 26-year conflict with the Tamil Tigers, who had been fighting for an independent Tamil state in the north and east of the Indian Ocean island.

On Thursday, E8 chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay had said he was aware of certain parties equating the acts of the LTTE in Sri Lanka to that of the Palestinians fighting for their homes, but the police would continue to take action against anyone who was involved in such activities.

"I do not see this as a racist act. Why are certain people labelling us as racists now when we have steadily been taking action against all individuals linked to terrorist activities from all races and religions," he asked.

Datuk Ayob also dismissed allegations of making arrests based on race as the E8 has always been consistent in nabbing those involved in terror groups.

"So far, 284 Jemaah Islamiyah members, 512 Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) members and 25 LTTE members have been detained in various operations over the years.

"We will take stern action against anyone who breaks the law, especially those involved in terrorism," he said.

Mr Ayob said it is clear that the LTTE has been classified as a terrorist group by several countries, including Malaysia.