Saturday March 2, 2013
Lahad Datu town falls eerily silent
LAHAD DATU: Lahad Datu town was deserted by noon as police and the Information Department advised people to remain indoors.
The police and the army stood guard at key locations including schools that were closed as parents rushed to take their children home.
Banks, government and private offices were closed with shops shutting their doors as word spread that a gunfight had broken out in Tanduo village at Felda Sahabat 17 about 165km away.
Panic also gripped other Sabah east coast towns such as Semporna, Tawau, Sandakan and Kudat in the north and Kota Kinabalu where some people were rushing to buy food rations.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib called for calm, saying that police had the situation under control and denied that a curfew had been imposed in any part of the state.
“If there is a curfew, I will be the one to give the order,” he said, adding that the advice to stay indoors was only a precautionary measure to the people in Lahad Datu town.
Hamza said the public need not fear as police were in control of the situation and would “prevent it from spreading”.
Lahad Datu district police chief Supt Samsudin Mat said the security forces were on high alert and no curfew was needed.
“Our men are vigilant and everything is under control. We have roadblocks but there is no restriction for anyone to enter Lahad Datu except the affected area,” he said.
Semporna police chief Deputy Supt Abdul Firdaus Francis Abdullah also said that there was no curfew in his district, and everything was normal except for the closure of some shops and offices.
“Many were worried that the problem would spread to Semporna, but there is no need to worry as the Sulu gunmen have been cornered in Lahad Datu,” he said.
Semporna and Lahad Datu have faced attacks in the 80s and 90s primarily from pirates in southern Philippines.