(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 - Malaysia has arrested seven Philippine men suspected of involvement in activities of the Abu Sayyaf militant group, police said on Thursday, as concern grows in Southeast Asia over the possible expansion of militant Islamist activity.
The Abu Sayyaf, whose members have pledged loyalty to Islamic State, is notorious for bombings, beheadings, extortions and kidnap-for-ransom activities in the Philippines' volatile south.
The men worked as security guards for private companies in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, and the surrounding state of Selangor, Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun said.
"One suspect, a 22-year-old, was an Abu Sayyaf group member involved in clashes with the military and kidnapping of hostages in the southern Philippines," he said in a statement.
An extremist faction of the Abu Sayyaf helped seize large parts of Marawi city in the southern Philippines in May, leading to a siege that has killed about 670 militants and 149 soldiers.
Reuters could not reach the men to seek comment as they are in custody. It was not immediately clear if they have lawyers to represent them.