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Saudi Arabia's King Salman speaks with Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak during a Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony in Putrajaya, Malaysia February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su(reuters_tickers)
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia on Tuesday said suspected militants from Yemen arrested late last month ahead of a visit by Saudi King Salman were planning an attack on "Arab royalties".
A senior police source said the four Yemenis belonged to a Houthi insurgency group that has been fighting Yemeni forces backed by a Saudi-led military coalition for two years.
The Saudi monarch arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 26 with a 600-strong delegation for a four-day visit, at the start of a month-long Asia tour. He is currently in Indonesia.
Between Feb. 21 and Feb. 26, Malaysia arrested one Malaysian and six foreigners - one Indonesian, four Yemenis and one East Asian - for suspected links to militant groups including Islamic State, police had said in a statement on Sunday.
Speaking on Tuesday, Malaysia's police chief said the four Yemenis were plotting an attack on Arab royalties.
"Four Yemenis, apart from their role involving in producing false travel documents they are also involved in distributing drugs... and they are also planning to attack the Arab royalties during the visit in Kuala Lumpur, so we got them in the nick of time," Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters.
The Yemenis were arrested in Serdang and Cyberjaya - near the capital Kuala Lumpur - for suspected links to a Yemeni insurgent group, Malaysian police had said on Sunday.
Police seized multiple international passports from the four, along with 270,000 ringgit ($60,742.41) in different currencies which were suspected to be channelled to the insurgent group.
The United Nations has said Yemen now poses the largest food insecurity emergency in the world, with an estimated 7.3 million people needing immediate help, while more than 10,00 people have been killed in the conflict.
HUNDRED DETAINED IN MALAYSIA
Malaysia has arrested hundreds of people with suspected militant links during recent years.
The Southeast Asian nation has been on high alert since suicide bombers and gunmen linked to Islamic State launched multiple attacks in Jakarta, the capital of neighbouring Indonesia, in January 2016.
A grenade attack on a bar on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur in June last year wounded eight people. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
Two of the seven arrested in late February - a Malaysian and an Indonesian - were planning to launch a large-scale attack using a "vehicle-borne improvised explosive device," the police have said.
(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi and Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Nick Macfie & Simon Cameron-Moore)