Malaysia foils Daesh-linked plot, seizes explosives

The planned attacks were to avenge the high-profile death of a Muslim fireman during riots at an Indian temple outside Kuala Lumpur last year, police said. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 May 2019

Malaysia foils Daesh-linked plot, seizes explosives

  • Authorities in Muslim-majority Malaysia regularly announce Daesh-related arrests
  • Malaysia practices a moderate brand of Islam and has not seen any notable terror attacks in recent years

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian police said Monday they have arrested four militants linked to the Daesh group who were in possession of explosives and planned to attack non-Muslim places of worship.
The suspects — a Malaysian who led the group, two Rohingya from Myanmar and one Indonesian — were detained last week in raids around Kuala Lumpur and in eastern Terengganu state.
Malaysia’s national police chief Abdul Hamid Bador described them as an “Islamic State cell” and said they planned to “assassinate high-profile individuals and attack Hindu, Christian and Buddhist places of worship in Malaysia.”
He did not give any details about who the high-profile individuals were. Police also seized six improvised explosive devices, a pistol and 15 bullets, he said.
The planned attacks were to avenge the high-profile death of a Muslim fireman during riots at an Indian temple outside Kuala Lumpur last year, police said.
One of the Rohingya admitted supporting the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, a militant group blamed for attacks in Myanmar that sparked an army crackdown, and had also planned to target the Myanmar embassy in Kuala Lumpur, police said.
The second Rohingya was a 25-year-old laborer who admitted to being militant with ties to Daesh, police said.
The Rohingya are a Muslim minority that have long faced persecution in their Buddhist homeland.
Police are hunting for three more members of the suspected terror cell who allegedly planned to attack entertainment outlets.
Authorities in Muslim-majority Malaysia regularly announce Daesh-related arrests but it is rare for police to seize explosives or weapons.
Malaysia practices a moderate brand of Islam and has not seen any notable terror attacks in recent years.
But security forces are on alert for militants from Malaysia and other parts of the region heading to the country after Daesh lost the last of its territory in the Middle East.
Authorities say scores of Malaysian radicals flocked to fight with the militants in Iraq and Syria.


Cambodia to ban elephant rides at Angkor temples

Updated 15 November 2019

Cambodia to ban elephant rides at Angkor temples

  • The Angkor archaeological complex in northern Siem Reap attracts the bulk of the kingdom’s tourists
  • Apsara authority plans to end the elephant rides by 2020
PHNOM PENH: Cambodia will ban all elephant rides at the country’s famed Angkor temple park by early next year, an official said Friday, a rare win for conservationists who have long decried the popular practice as cruel.
The Angkor archaeological complex in northern Siem Reap attracts the bulk of the kingdom’s foreign tourists — which topped six million in 2018 — and many opt for elephants rides around the ancient temples.
But these rides “will end by the start of 2020,” said Long Kosal, a spokesman with the Apsara Authority, which manages the park.
“Using elephants for business is not appropriate anymore,” he told AFP, adding that some of the animals were “already old.”
So far, five of the 14 working elephants have been transferred to a community forest about 40 kilometers (25 miles) away from the temples.
“They will live out their natural lives there,” Kosal said.
The company that owns the elephants will continue to look after them, he added.
Cambodia has long come under fire from animal rights groups for ubiquitous elephant rides on offer for tourists, also seen in neighboring Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.
The elephants are broken in during training and rights groups have accused handlers of overworking them.
In 2016, a female elephant died by the roadside after carrying tourists around the Angkor Wat temple complex in severely hot weather.
The animal had been working for around 45 minutes before she collapsed.