Singapore detains two 'Syria-bound militants' without trial

August 19, 2016 7:15 AM EDT

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Two Singaporeans who the government says intended to travel to Syria to fight for Islamic State have been detained under a colonial-era law that allows suspects to be held without trial.

Singapore has been on heightened vigilance since Indonesian police arrested a group of men they believed were plotting a rocket attack on the wealthy city-state with the help of a Syrian-based Islamic State militant.

A major financial center and the most westernized society in Southeast Asia, multi-ethnic Singapore is increasingly seen as a target for radicalised religious militants, authorities say.

Rosli bin Hamzah, a 50-year-old car washer, and Mohamed Omar bin Mahadi, a 33-year-old waste truck driver, received two-year detention orders this month, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement.

Both had been radicalised, the ministry said, adding they were prepared to die as martyrs in Syria.

Singapore, which has not suffered a militant attack in decades, deploys extensive surveillance and is largely seen as one of the safest countries in the world. But some critics say security comes with a cost to civil liberties.

The Internal Security Act, under which the two were held, has been criticized by rights groups for allowing detention without trial.

Authorities have detained or repatriated dozens of people in the past year, most of them migrant Bangladeshi workers, for suspected links to militant fund-raising or other "terrorism-related activities".

(Reporting by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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