Malaysian churches and temples get extra security

The Southeast Asian nation faces major challenges in staying ahead of terrorists plotting attacks
Malaysian churches and temples get extra security

A file image of a Royal Malaysia Police officer outside the Shah Alam High Court, near Kuala Lumpur on Dec. 14, 2018. Malaysian police are currently on a heightened terror alert following a mass shooting targeting Muslims in New Zealand. (Photo by Mohd Rasfan/AFP)

ucanews.com reporter, Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
March 20, 2019
Malaysia faces a heightened terror alert following the deadly attack on two mosques in New Zealand last week.

Local police announced on March 19 that they have increased vigilance at churches and temples around the country as they evaluate risks of retaliatory attacks on non-Muslim places of worship in one of the most multicultural nations in southeast Asia.

“Immediately after the shooting (in New Zealand), I instructed all police chiefs to inform their ground officers to be on high alert and to monitor churches and temples,” national police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun told the media, state news agency Bernama reported.

“Action has been taken. Don’t worry, we are always on high alert,” he said after an official function in Kuala Lumpur.

The added security measures come as Christians in the country observe Lent and prepare for Holy Week and Easter on April 21.

Known to be a transit point for foreigners pursuing militant activities, Malaysia is facing a major challenge staying ahead of terrorists plotting attacks in the country.

Since 2013, Malaysian authorities say they have thwarted more than a dozen planned attacks in a country where its Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and the majority Muslim population have mostly coexisted peacefully.

Just last week, Malaysian authorities disclosed the arrest of 13 terrorist suspects, 12 of them foreigners, in the east Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island.

The state, which together with neighboring Sarawak is home to a large Christian population, borders the restive Southern Philippines and has been targeted by Filipino Muslim militants and criminal groups in cross-border raids.

While the presence of members of Abu Sayyaf and Islamic State-influenced Maute terrorist groups has been detected in the east Malaysian state, police are investigating whether they have also managed to infiltrate Peninsular Malaysia.

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