Philippines holds Malaysian man linked to rebel deadly attacks

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Philippine authorities on Wednesday have confirmed the arrest of a Malaysian national during a raid on a house frequented by former rebel chieftain Nur Misuari, whose forces attacked Zamboanga City in September.

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Police said the Malaysian man, Koh Wui Chick, who is using the aliases Samson Jose Konde and Atchong, was brought to Manila where he is currently being investigated.

“The Malaysian man is now in the custody of the Philippine National Police in Manila and he is currently being investigated in connection to the MNLF attacks in Zamboanga,” Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca, a regional police spokesman, told The Manila Times.

President Benigno Aquino earlier ordered an investigation in the MNLF attacks in Zamboanga and who financed the rebels to carry out the raid. There were media reports that some Filipino politicians may have financed the violence to discredit the Aquino government and that several Malaysians had met with rebel leaders prior to the attacks.

Just early this year, a Malaysian national, who allegedly helped in negotiating with Abu Sayyaf rebels for the release of 21 mostly European holidaymakers kidnapped in Sabah in 2001, was spotted in Zamboanga City and Manila at the height of the standoff between armed followers of the Sultanate of Sulu who intruded in Sabah’s Lahad Datu town.

It was unknown whether Koh had a direct participation in the simultaneous raid by rebels on September 9, but it sparked deadly street battles that lasted for three weeks. The fighting left over 400 people dead and wounded and resulted in a humanitarian crisis.

Malaysia has confirmed the arrest of one of its national and said the 55-year old man is from Kota Kinabalu in the eastern state of Sabah.

“The arrest of the Malaysian man followed the action taken by the Philippine security forces against individuals suspected of being involved in the armed attacks launched by MNLF fighter in Zamboanga City on September 9,” Director-General, Datuk Mohammad Mantek, of the Eastern Sabah Security Command, told the official Malaysian news agency Bernama.

Mohammad did not give details about the arrested Malaysian national, saying Filipino authorities are still investigating the man. It was not immediately known whether the foreigner had funded the rebel attacks in Zamboanga City.

The attacks prompted Malaysian authorities to tighten security in Sabah to prevent the intrusion of rebels.

“So far, no security threats to Sabah have been detected but we are intensifying security measures along eastern Sabah’s border waters nevertheless,” Mohammad said, adding Malaysian security forces are ready to collaborate with the Philippines if there is a need. “We have no problem in extending cooperation due to our good relations with the Philippine government.”

Malaysia and the Philippines have joint border patrol agreement and both countries regularly hold naval war games off Sabah and the southern Filipino province of Tawi-Tawi. AL JACINTO

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