Nine suspected militants arrested in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysian police said they arrested nine people on Monday under a security law on suspicion of involvement in a terror group with overseas links.

National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said the nine, aged from 22 to 55, were arrested near the capital Kuala Lumpur and in the northern state of Kedah bordering Thailand.

They were held on suspicion of being "involved in a militant group that is responsible for planning terror acts in and outside the country", Mr Khalid said in a statement.

He added that they were believed to have links to terrorists abroad, and some of them allegedly held "a secret meeting to strengthen their militant ideology, raise funds and undergo military training in preparation to commit acts of terror".

The statement gave no further details.

A source familiar with the arrests said those detained were Malaysians but not linked to Jemaah Islamiyah, a militant Islamic group, or to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. The source did not elaborate.

Malaysia has not been the target of any notable terror attacks in recent years. But it has been home to several suspected key figures in militant Islamic groups such as the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah. The group has been blamed for a number of attacks in the region - the deadliest being the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

Police have said they are probing terrorism as one possible reason why MH370 veered off course and vanished on March 8. The missing passenger jet is believed to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean with 239 people aboard. No sign of wreckage has been found.

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