Wednesday March 13, 2013
Lahad Datu: Soldier, two gunmen killed in Lahad Datu
Reports by P.K. KATHARASON, MUGUNTAN VANAR, PHILIP GOLINGAI, STEPHANIE LEE, SHAUN HO, ABDUL RAZAK AHMAD, SYED AZHAR, FARIK ZOLKEPLI and STEVEN DANIEL; with photos by AZHAR MAHFOF, NORMIMIE DIUN AND M. AZHAR ARIF.
LAHAD DATU: A 36-hour lull in gunfire was shattered after dawn when shooting broke out near Kampung Tanjung Batu, killing a soldier and two Sulu gunmen.
The latest bloody encounter started when joint military and police units conducting mopping up operations near Sungai Nyamuk outside Tanduo area towards Kg Tanjung Batu spotted five gunmen at about 7.45am.
A gunbattle ensued and the five terrorists retreated, Armed Forces chief Jen Zulkifeli Mohd Zin said in Felda Sahabat here, about 15km from where the fighting took place.
The security forces pursued the enemy and tracked them down to a swampy area near a Felda oil palm plantation and a second gunfight flared up at 10.45am.
In the exchange of fire, one of our soldiers and two terrorists were killed, Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib told a briefing for the media.
Jen Zulkifeli said the soldier 24-year-old Hurairah Ismail from Pasir Mas in Kelantan is the first armed forces personnel killed in action in Ops Daulat to wipe out the remnants of the Sulu group led by Raja Muda Azzimudie Kiram whose fate is still unknown.
Hamza said that another gunman was believed to have been wounded.
He also said that another soldier, aged 35 and also from Kelantan, was injured in the gunbattle which occurred from about 9am to 1.50pm, “The soldier who was hit in the cheek is in stable condition.”
Although Tanduo village has been secured with the raising of the Malaysian flag and all landing points are under the control of the security forces, house-to-house search is ongoing at Kampung Tanjung Batu, Kampung Tanjung Labian and Kampung Sungai Bilis covering an area of 10 sq km.
Earlier, Hamza said that more bodies were being removed from Tanduo that had been discovered previously.
According to the latest information, there were up to 15 bodies buried there, he said.
“We believe there are more bodies buried in the same spot and in other graves nearby. Our men will be going back to investigate,” he added.
He confirmed that the body of the self-styled General Musa was recovered at Kampung Tanjung Batu along with another yesterday morning.
This brings the number of bodies recovered so far to 23. The death toll of the terrorists is 57, with nine Malaysian security forces personnel killed in the conflict.
Police are meanwhile continuing their sweep of sympathisers of the armed Sulu group.
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