Wednesday March 6, 2013
Successful strike on Tanduo
Reports by P.K. KATHARASON, MUGUNTAN VANAR, RUBEN SARIO, PHILIP GOLINGAI, SHAHANAAZ HABIB, ABDUL RAZAK AHMAD, FARIK ZOLKEPLI, SIRA HABIBU, RAHIMY RAHIM, SHAUN HO, R.S.N. MURALI, MANJIT KAUR, MOHD FARHAAN SHAH, TAN SIN CHOW, RASHITHA A. HAMID, QISHIN TARIQ, JOSEPH SIPALAN, M. KUMAR, YUEN MEIKENG, EDMUND NGO, STEPHANIE LEE, WONG PEK MEI, ZUHRIN AZAM AHMAD, TASHNY SUKUMARAN, EILEEN NG and PATRICK LEE with photos by AZHAR MAHFOF, NORMIMIE DIUN AND M. AZHAR ARIF. Videos by ARON RAJ and IBRAHIM HARRIS
FELDA SAHABAT (Lahad Datu): Half an hour of air strikes and heavy artillery fire has routed the Sulu armed group after a 23-day standoff.
Amidst claims of bodies being spotted, Malaysia's elite military and police forces have moved in to fully secure a 4sq km area of the bombed out Tanduo village.
By nightfall, the troops had secured half of the flattened village but the fate of the group's leader Raja Muda Azzimudie Kiram remained unclear.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said there were “zero casualties” among the Malaysian security forces but believed that there were still “enemies” in the area.
“We hope they have not escaped,” he said when asked about media reports from Manila quoting the family of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III as saying that Azzimudie was alive.
The blitz on Azzimudie's group, whose claimed numbers varied between 100 and 200, began at 7am.
Five F/A-18 and three Hawk 208 fighter jets dropped laser-guided bombs after which artillery bombardment took place for 20 minutes.
Immediately after the air and artillery assaults, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones were used to get a visual assessment of the damage in the village of about 15 houses, which was occupied by the armed intruders since Feb 9, two days before the standoff on Feb 12.
Police teams comprising members of the elite VAT 69 corps entered the area to finish off remnants based on the visual assessment, while soldiers from five of the eight army battalions provided back up.
At least 11 ships and 13 boats from the navy and marine police are patrolling the Tanduo coast and strategic locations along Sabah's east coast to prevent members of the Sulu group from fleeing by sea.
Possible retaliatory attacks by intruders from southern Philippines had been a constant concern of the security forces following reports of arrivals of armed men but there were no sightings or confirmations.
Although the police kept re-assuring the public that they were in control of the situation, fear was still felt in many Sabah towns as rumours of supposed sightings of gunmen in military fatigues, shootings and explosions continued.
Many people across the state were seen stocking up on foodstuff as news on the attack on Tanduo village spread. Most schools, offices and retail businesses were closed.
The Philippine security authorities, meanwhile, have claimed that they have prevented at least 70 armed men linked to the so-called Sulu Royal Army, which has a training ground in Basilan, from leaving Tawi Tawi for Sabah's coast, located less than a 30-minute boat ride away.
@vangeyzel: Prayer goes out to all our police commandos and forces putting their lives on the line in Lahad Datu. This isn't about politics.
@khalednovel: To all the troops in Lahad Datu, may God be with you. #respect
@SheilaMajid: I am deeply saddened that more lives have been lost in Lahad Datu. Takziah to the families of our PDRM national heroes. Al Fatiha.
@HidayatunNtsha: Pray for Sabahans. Pray for Lahad Datu. May Allah protect them.
@Feeefatin: Our heroes are fighting in Lahad Datu today, let's pray for them. Go get em boys! Show them the true nature of a TIGER!
@Art_Harun: Tough we are at war wth some Sulu bandits, we are not at war with Philippines or any peace-loving Filipino. So, let's not spread hatred.
@fahmi_fadzil: Will the real Sulu Sultan please stand down.
@JugjetSingh: From docile to aggressive in 5 secs! Malaysia has shown the world that we can accommodate as well as retaliate when pushed against the wall.
@SabahLuv: All they want is war, we give it to them, even this is not our choice and maybe the last choice. Just #prayforsabah.
@akil_y: The stand-off in Sabah has shown us how compassionate and caring we can be. And also how stupid some Malaysians can be.
@Tok_Tek: Don't blame all the Suluk in Sabah, it's not what they want. It's the Sultan Sulu's greed & selfishness that led to this mess.
@__earth: Difference between Malaysia and Sulu. However imperfect the process, Malaysia is a democratic country. Sulu's claim is based on feudalism.
@SitiShawaliza95: Ya Allah. Let's pray for the safety of our security forces fighting at Kg Tanduo, Lahad Datu!
@jasonleong: We pay tribute to our patriots who gave the last full measure of devotion in defending our land in Sabah. @linateoh: Let us all pray for Sabah & a peaceful outcome soon!
@KarimRaslan: Can't believe how quickly Sabah has unravelled. We've been so used to thinking of Malaysia as a peaceful nation. The reality is a painful shock.
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