April 6, 2015 / 1:37 PM / in 2 years

Malaysia detains 17 suspected of plotting attacks: police chief

Malaysia's police chief, Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar, addresses a news conference on the two passengers who had travelled onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane on stolen passports in Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 11, 2014. REUTERS/Edgar Su

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Seventeen suspected militants have been detained on suspicion of plotting to carry out attacks in Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian police chief said on Monday.

Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar tweeted that the 17, two of them had just returned from Syria, were detained Sunday. No further details were given and a police official said a statement will be issued later.

The 17 were believed to be planning attacks against targets such as police stations and military camps, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said, according to the state news agency, Bernama.

The arrest comes a few days after the country announced new legislation to counter any potential militant threat.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said last November that stronger laws were needed to curb militants, who now have the equipment and logistics to plan “lone wolf” attacks, establish Islamic State cells and form connections with other militant groups in the region.

The Southeast Asian nation has arrested 40 citizens suspected of militancy and identified 39 Malaysians already in Syria and Iraq.

Malaysian militants have used Facebook and other social media sites to draw recruits, attracting thousands of followers online.

Reporting By Yantoultra Ngui; Editing by Larry King

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