Friday March 8, 2013
Lahad Datu: 32 more gunmen die in fights
LAHAD DATU: Thirty-two more Sulu gunmen have been killed, bringing to 52 the number of intruders who have died in shootouts in coastal villages where followers of the self styled Sultan of Sulu are holed up.
One was shot dead in Kampung Tanduo when he attacked secutiry forces while 31 gunmen were killed in a gunbattle in Kampung Tanjung Batu in Tanjung Labian near here at around 11.30am yesterday.
One of those killed is believed to be Haji Musa, who carries the rank of general. Haji Musa was a former Moro National Liberation Front comander who is said to have fought in the Vietnam War while he was with the Philippine army.
“The joint police and military operation is ongoing and 52 gunmen have been killed since our first battle with them (last Friday),” said Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar at a joint press conference with Armed Forces chief Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin.
“I have received reports from the ground and I can confirm that our forces shot at 31 enemies including one with the rank of general and we believe they were killed,” he said.
Another gunman was also killed in a gunfight in Kampung Tanduo on Wednesday.
On Friday, a chance encounter with the gunmen at Kampung Tanduo resulted in 12 Sulu gunmen and two Vat 69 commandos being killed.
The next day, in two separate shootouts in Semporna, seven Sulu gunmen and six policemen were killed.
Asked about the fate of Raja Muda Azzimudie Kiram, leader of the armed intruders who landed in Kampung Tanduo on Feb 12, Ismail said he could not tell as yet because there were other bodies that could not be recovered.
It is believed that Azzimudie had slipped into Kampung Tanjung Batu before the aerial and artillery assault on Kampung Tanduo on Tuesday.
He said the gunmen were now split into two groups in Kampung Tanduo and Kampung Tanjung Batu, which are about three km apart. “We have surrounded them in these two coastal villages. I have told our men to be careful as we don't want to make any mistakes,” Ismail added.
Meanwhile, Bernama reported that the security forces had cordoned off all sea and land routes to prevent food and weapons from reaching the armed intruders.
They have nabbed intruders who tried to leave and enter Kampung Tanduo and Kampung Tanjung Batu to get their food supplies, said Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib.
“We have created a tight cordon around the area, with the help of the navy and armed forces.
“Their food supplies have been cut off because we have caught many of the intruders when they attempted to get food,” he said in an interview on TV3.
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