Malaysia arrests 17 on suspicion of plotting terror attacks, police say

National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed the arrests in a Twitter posting

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Seventeen people, including two who recently returned from Syria, have been arrested on suspicion of plotting terror attacks in Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur, officials say.

National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed the arrests in a Twitter posting.

Mr Khalid said the arrests took place on Sunday. No other details, such as the suspects' nationalities or specifics on what they had been plotting, were mentioned.

Anti-terrorism officials were not immediately able to be reached for comment.

Authorities in the Muslim-majority country have expressed increasing alarm over the threat of Muslim militancy in the wake of ISIS’ bloody violence in Syria and Iraq.

Malaysia has traditionally observed a moderate form of Islam, and authorities have kept a tight lid on militancy.

But the government has increasingly warned Malaysian recruits to the ISIS cause could return home with the group's radical ideology.

Police said in January they had arrested a total of 120 people with suspected ISIS links or sympathies, or who were detained as they sought to travel to Syria or Iraq.

They also said 67 Malaysians were known at the time to have gone abroad to join ISIS, and that five had died fighting in the group's jihad.

Last week, the government introduced new anti-terrorism legislation to counter the potential ISIS threat.

The bill, which has come under fire from rights groups, allows authorities to detain terrorism suspects for potentially unlimited periods without trial, according to its critics.

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