Malaysia to summon US ambassador over terror warning for Borneo island state

(AP) – Malaysia plans to summon the U.S. ambassador to explain why his embassy issued a travel warning about possible terror threats on Borneo island, while police insisted Saturday that the region was safe.

The U.S. warned its citizens Friday that criminals and terrorists could be plotting attacks on foreigners in Sabah state. The travel advisory on the U.S. Embassy Web site urged Americans to “avoid or use extreme caution” when travelling in Sabah.

Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said the ministry will summon U.S. Ambassador James R. Keith on Monday to explain the warning, the New Straits Times newspaper reported.

A Foreign Ministry official could not immediately comment. A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman declined to comment, citing protocol.

Sabah police chief Noor Rashid Ibrahim said he had been “taken aback” by the warning and insisted the area was safe. He said state police had nonetheless stepped up patrols and monitoring.

“We have advised our men to be vigilant,” Noor Rashid said. “But as far as I’m concerned Sabah is safe. … We have assessed the situation. We didn’t trace any terrorist activity.”

The travel warning said there were “indications that both criminal and terrorist groups are planning or intend acts of violence against foreigners in eastern Sabah, notwithstanding the government of Malaysia’s increased ability to detect, deter and prevent such attacks.”

The advisory noted that al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants based in the southern Philippines – a short boat ride from Sabah – have kidnapped foreigners from Sabah’s secluded resort areas in the past.