Published: Thursday March 7, 2013 MYT 12:25:00 PM
Updated: Thursday March 7, 2013 MYT 7:28:54 PM
Lahad Datu: Residents confident security forces can resolve situation
LAHAD DATU: The residents of several villages here, who had to be evacuated following the intrusion by an armed group from Southern Philippines, are confident that the nation's security forces can resolve the situation.
Villagers from Kampung Tanduo, Tanjung Labian, Tanjung Batu, Tanagian and Sungai Bilis who are camped out in Embara Budi and Fajar Harapan multi-purpose halls, told Bernama that they now felt safer with the tight security provided by the police and armed forces.
Hoping that the security forces could capture the remnants of the group in the near future, Kampung Tanjung Labian community leader Assaffal Alian, 48, said some villagers were still traumatised by the incident.
"They feel much less fearful now with the tight 24-hour security by the police, army and Civil Defence Department.
"We thank the government for taking stern action against these intruders who have caused us hardship," he said.
A resident of the same village, Musli Jaafar, 52, said his family had to evacuate with just the clothes on their backs after receiving orders from the authorities last Sunday.
"This is a very scary experience. On Tuesday I heard bombs exploding in Kampung Tanduo. The terrorists deserve it and the government has taken the right action," he said.
"I feel that the government is determined to resolve the situation. I'm sure it will be all over in another two or three days," he said at Embara Budi, about 10 km from Kampung Tanduo.
The hall is housing about 650 villagers, while Fajar Harapan which is 15km away from Kampung Tanduo has 1,200.
Rohilu Addeinis, 43, from Kampung Tanagian said the security forces' presence which showed high commitment has relieved the people's anxiety of the past few days.
"We're very safe here with tight entry and exit controls. We thank the government, police and armed forces. We hope the government doesn't compromise on national security and pray that it will end quickly," he said.
Meanwhile, Sergeant Juspin Sijan, 56, who was leading a team of 14 at the Jalan Tungku road block here, said the people in the area have been very cooperative with the authorities and some even generously provided food for them as well.
"We're very touched as the community appreciates our services and sacrifice in defending them and the nation's sovereignty.
"This also proves that they have faith in the security troops," he said, adding that such support boosted the morale of the security forces.
In efforts to resolve the situation peacefully, security forces have surrounded Kampung Tanduo, Felda Sahabat 17, about 130km from Lahad Datu where the armed intruders have entrenched themselves since Feb 12.
However, on March 1 the group attacked security forces and killed two VAT 69 police commandos, followed by another six policemen in an ambush in Semporna, the next day.
Orders to lay down their weapons and surrender were ignored, so on Tuesday the government launched an offensive named Op Daulat to resolve the situation.
The security forces confirmed that they found 13 bodies from the group during a mopping up exercise after the offensive, including one killed in the cross-fire. - Bernama
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