Malaysian police kill suspected Philippine militants

Sabah police commissioner Hazani Ghazali (third from left) with seized weapons and photos of the suspects.
Sabah police commissioner Hazani Ghazali (third from left) with seized weapons and photos of the suspects.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Five suspected members of Philippine militant group Abu Sayyaf have been shot dead in a firefight with the police on the Malaysian part of Borneo island, said the authorities on Tuesday (May 18).

The police were attacked by men armed with guns and machetes on Monday when they raided a settlement near the town of Beaufort in Sabah state, and returned fire.

"Five male suspects were successfully defeated," said Sabah police commissioner Hazani Ghazali in a statement.

They were believed to be from the Abu Sayyaf group, the police said, self-proclaimed Islamic militants whose stronghold is in the Muslim-majority southern Philippines, not far from Sabah.

One of them has been identified as Mabar Binda, a militant leader on the Philippine police's wanted list, Malaysian newspaper The Star reported.

Abu Sayyaf, which has distant links to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has been responsible for some of the Philippines' worst terror attacks in recent years.

They have carried out bombings as well as kidnappings of Western tourists and missionaries since the 1990s, often operating in poorly policed sea areas bordering Malaysia and Indonesia.