Malaysian police kill suspected militants

·1-min read

Police in Malaysia's east say they shot dead five men suspected to be members of the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf Islamist terrorist group during a raid the previous day.

Police in Sabah, a state in the Malaysian part of the island of Borneo, said the five were killed during a patrol at the same location where last week police arrested eight alleged members of the group, which has its stronghold across the Sulu Sea in the southern Philippines.

"Our men knocked on the door of one of the squatter houses but were met with hostile gunfire, which we immediately returned," said Sabah police commissioner Hazani Ghazali, during a press conference in Kota Kinabalu, the Sabah regional capital.

Known for its brutal and sometimes deadly kidnappings, some of which have been carried out during raids on Sabah, Abu Sayyaf has declared fealty to the Islamic State.

It has been deemed a terrorist organisation by the United States and the Philippines, where soldiers in March killed a key leader during a raid to free Indonesian hostages.

Abu Sayyaf is one of several armed groups operating in the southern Philippines, where Islamic militants have fought against the Catholic-dominated central government in Manila for decades and have also in the past asserted a territorial claim to Malaysia's Sabah.