Wednesday March 6, 2013
Sarawak GOF battalions to deal with Sulu gunmen
By NIGEL EDGAR
KUCHING: The state police have sent a 500-strong team of General Operations Force (GOF) personnel to Lahad Datu to deal with the intrusion there.
Sarawak police commissioner DCP Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani said the men comprised those from the GOF 10th Battalion in Sibu, 12th Battalion in Miri and 11th Battalion here.
“We don’t know how long these men would be posted there but with the current situation and the approach taken by our Government and leaders, we are confident this incident (intrusion) could be resolved soon,” he told a press confe-rence after a sending-off ceremony wit-nessed by their family members here yesterday.
Several policemen were seen embracing their relatives, family members, spouses and children before they flew off at 2pm to Kota Kinabalu via Malaysia Airlines enroute to Lahad Datu.
DCP Acryl urged Sarawakians to support and pray for their safety while they were there and also for their safe return to their respective families.
“I hope and pray that my men would carry out their duties with the highest discipline while defending our country’s sovereignty,” he said.
DCP Acryl said during the early stages of the intrusion, the state police had also dispatched some men to Lahad Datu.
“During the early stages of the incident, we sent some 20 men from the Crime and Investigation Department (CID) and some 40 marine police,” he said.
Earlier around 7am, Malaysian security forces launched an air strike on Kampung Tanduo targeted at some 100 armed followers of the self-styled ailing Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.
Fighter jets took to the air and pounded the village, followed by elite police teams and soldiers who went in to finish the job.
Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Omar Ismail told reporters at 11.30am that there were no casualties in the Malaysian side but the casualties among the gunmen were still unknown.
The situation in all parts of east coast Sabah was described as under control by the police though the army had been placed on high alert at strategic locations as there have been threats of retaliation from the Sulu Sultan’s followers if the intruders are defeated.
Sulu Sultan spokesman Abraham Idjirani yesterday said the air strike by the jets missed the forces of Azzimudie Kiram.
“Azzimudie told us that the Malaysian forces and the police commandos, about seven battalions, attacked the place suspected of being Kiram’s camp,” he said.
Idjirani said the jets bombed a position previously held by the forces of Kiram but had now been occupied by Malaysian forces.
He said the incident could have been a case of “friendly fire”.
He said Kiram and his men were safe and were holed up in a place far from the air strikes.
As tension remains high in Lahad Datu, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F del Rosario met with Malaysian Government officials in Kuala Lumpur yesterday to discuss a peaceful resolution on the issue.