KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian police on Thursday (Oct 10) arrested seven people, including two politicians, suspected of having links to the now-defunct Sri Lankan Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) separatist group.
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.
Authorities arrested seven people on suspicion of "supporting, promoting, recruiting, fundraising for and possessing items linked to LTTE militants", Malaysian police counter-terrorism chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay told reporters.
Among them were two state lawmakers who had allegedly delivered speeches and distributed leaflets in support of the group at an event honouring Tamil Tiger "heroes" last year, Ayob said.
"There are attempts from certain quarters from outside Sri Lanka, not just in Malaysia, to reactivate the LTTE movement," he said.
"We are taking action to arrest them as we do not want these activities to spread and smear the image of Malaysia."
Ayob did not name the suspects but the Democratic Action Party, a member of Malaysia's ruling coalition, confirmed in a statement that two of its assemblymen were arrested.
Police also detained a 38-year-old insurance agent on suspicion of planning an attack on the Sri Lankan High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said on Thursday the party believes in the innocence of its two assemblymen.
"Their involvement in the DAP so far has shown no indication that the two were involved in any activities that departed from the party’s stand of moderation, non-violence and peaceful resolution," he said in a statement.
Noting that DAP would provide a legal team to represent both legislators, he said that party national vice-chairman M Kula Segaran has been asked to represent DAP in liaising with the relevant authorities, legislators and family members.
"DAP hopes that both our wakil rakyat (assemblyman) will take their present predicament as a challenge, with resilience and faith, that truth shall not only be made known and prevail but also set them free," Lim said.
Malaysia has been on high alert since January 2016, when gunmen allied with Islamic State carried out a series of attacks in Jakarta, the capital of neighbouring Indonesia.
Malaysian authorities have arrested hundreds of people in the past few years for suspected militant links, including 25 people for activities linked to the Tamil Tigers, Ayob said.