Malaysia, south-east Asia nations warned of terror attacks

Phnom Penh: The US has warned south-east Asian nations of potential Islamic State terrorist attacks in the region, as the Australian government issued a specific warning about possible strikes in Malaysia.

US intelligence agencies have told regional nations of a potential terror strike by people linked to Islamic State, prompting heightened security in countries like Thailand, where authorities have stepped up patrols and security checks in areas frequented by large groups of people and foreigners.

Australia's travel advisory website warned of a possible attack in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, indicating Australian agencies have received specific information about a potential terrorist plot.

"Terrorists may be planning attacks in and around Kuala Lumpur. Attacks could be indiscriminate and may target Western interests or locations frequented by Westerners," the advisory read.

The advisory also recommended that Australians avoid travel to the coastal region of eastern Sabah, where the beaches and islands are popular with foreign tourists and diving enthusiasts.

Malaysia's foreign ministry assured travellers to Malaysia that the security situation is under control.

"It is nothing to be alarmed of and we will continue to keep foreign missions informed of security developments," the ministry said in a statement.

"We also acknowledge the fact that foreign missions are at liberty to provide their own assessment of the security situation in their host countries, albeit the fact that it may not be accurate or gives a true reflection of the situation," it read.

Malaysia has been on high alert since Islamic State claimed responsibility for a bomb and gun attack in Indonesia's capital Jakarta in January and a series of alleged terrorist plots were subsequently uncovered in Malaysia.

One suspected "lone-wolf" militant allegedly confessed to planning an attack on popular nightspots in Kuala Lumpur.

Islamic State last month threatened revenge for the arrests of a growing number of its militants in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

"If you catch us we will only increase in number but if you let us be, we will be closer to our goal of bringing back the rule of khalifah [caliph]," Malay-speaking militants warned in a video posted on an IS-sanctioned website.

"We will never bow down to the democratic system of governance, as we will only follow Allah's rules," they said.

The one-minute "revenge" video, showing fighters from the so-called Katibah Nusantara​ (Malay Archipelago brigade), was posted as Malaysian police arrested seven Malaysian nationals accused of plotting to attack strategic locations across the country.

More than 500 Indonesians and dozens of Malaysians are believed to have travelled to the Middle East to fight with IS.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak​, struggling to counter a corruption scandal, has been portraying his government as being tough on Islamic militants, defending draconian anti-terrorism laws, under which more than 120 people have been detained over the past two years.

Thailand's military-run government has also assured visitors that its security agencies have the situation under control.

The country's national security council secretary-general Thawip Netniyom​ told reporters the US alert referred to the whole region, not just Thailand.

"Our intelligence units have been working hard on this and similar warnings since last year. We are not ignoring anything. People should not panic," he said.

The latest US warning sent to the Royal Thai police highlighted the potential for attacks in public places such as shopping malls, tourist spots, entertainment venues and public transport systems.

This story Malaysia, south-east Asia nations warned of terror attacks first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.