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UK advises citizens not to visit east coast of Malaysian state of Sabah

sandakanThe UK has issued an updated travel advisory which warns Britons parts of the Malaysian state of Sabah are not safe holiday destinations. Late last week, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) changed the danger warning for the state’s eastern islands from general to high which means that tourists should not visit them unless absolutely necessary.

The updated FCO travel advice cited risk of terror attacks on the east Sabah islands facing the Sulu Archipelago which include Mataking, Lankayan and Sipadan. The warning says attacks in this area of Malaysia could be random and might be in places frequented by foreigners.

The Sulu Archipelago is the closest of the southern Philippines’ islands to Sabah and the shoreline of northwest Borneo. The FCO explained that gangs in the southern Philippines had been kidnapping foreigners more frequently of late and had the ability to cross the Sulu or Celebes seas and do the same in Sabah.

The advisory continued by saying that British visitors needed to be careful when on the mainland of east Sabah too. It stated that Sandakan, Lahad Datu and Semporna were all best avoided if possible.

The UK has followed the lead of authorities in Australia and New Zealand regarding travel to Sabah. The Australian advisory says the east Sabah mainland and its offshore dive sites and islands are all high-risk and its nationals should avoid them altogether.

The FCO also noted in its update that haze caused by an earthquake in Sabah last June was still lingering and could lead to flight delays. The epicentre of the 6.0-magnitude quake was in the Sabah district of Ranau. Tremors shook most of Borneo and 18 people were killed on Mt Kinabalu.

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