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Malaysia imposes curfew on Sabah coastline after attack

A curfew will be imposed along the porous coastline of Malaysia's eastern state of Sabah, among other measures to enhance security after gunmen killed a policeman and kidnapped another on Mabul island.

KUALA LUMPUR: A curfew will be imposed along the porous coastline of Malaysia's eastern state of Sabah, said the home minister on Wednesday.

The curfew is among other measures to enhance security in the area, which has been targeted by militants in recent months.

The latest increase in security comes after heavily armed gunmen ambushed a police post on Mabul island, off the south-eastern coast of Sabah, killing one policeman and kidnapping another.

At a joint news conference on Wednesday, Home Minister Zahid Hamidi and the Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar announced several key measures that will take effect over the next 48 hours.

The curfew will be imposed in various hotspots along the coastline of Sabah, from Kudat to Tawau. Anyone in breach of the curfew will be arrested.

Khalid Abu Bakar said: "Now we want to make sure these designated sea routes will be complied by all sea users. Designated sea routes will be supplemented by curfew being announced at certain hours to make sure the sea routes are not misused."

Nearly 700 army and police personnel will be deployed to Sabah to increase security, especially on resort islands and fish farms that have been targeted by kidnappers in recent months.

More naval vessels and aircraft will also be mobilised to the areas near the southern Philippines to enhance surveillance.

Authorities are compiling a standard operating procedure on rules of engagement for security forces, which will ensure civilians are not shot at unintentionally.

Meanwhile, Khalid Abu Bakar said he will bring his man back alive before the Hari Raya celebration, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month.

He said: "For his safety, we will not discuss in the open, we will not talk about ransom… We are doing all we can to bring him back to his family before Hari Raya."

As Malaysia increases security measures, the police have asked local fishermen to be their eyes and ears on the ground, so as to curb further cross-border kidnappings and bring back public confidence. 

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