Saturday March 9, 2013
Lahad Datu: No updates on remaining Sulu militants or Azzimudie
Reports by P.K. KATHARASON, MUGUNTAN VANAR, RUBEN SARIO, PHILIP GOLINGAI, SHAHANAAZ HABIB, SHAUN HO, SIRA HABIBU, FARIK ZOLKEPLI, TEH ENG HOCK, REGINA LEE, STEPHANIE LEE, YVONNE LIM, STEVEN DANIEL and STEVEN CHEW
LAHAD DATU: None of the remnant Sulu armed groups holed up in the homes of fishing villagers around Tanjung Labian have surrendered while a dead-or-alive poser hangs over their leader Raja Muda Azzimudie Kiram.
Giving an update on the ongoing Ops Daulat around Kg Tanjung Batu and Kg Tanjung Labian as well as Tanduo village, Armed Forces chief Jeneral Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin said yesterday that he had not received any news regarding the possible surrender of the remaining Sulu gunmen.
“We will continue with the operations as we believe the remaining gunmen are still located in a few places,” he said as villagers reported hearing several explosions and gunfire.
Fighter jets also did an aerial survey of the operations area covering 10 sq km but there were no reports of bombings.
A total of 20 rounds of artillery fire were heard by villagers and journalists yesterday evening, believed to have been fired at Kg Tanjung Batu.
Elite police and military units are believed to be moving cautiously in between stilt homes where the gunmen could be hiding amid reports that some are attempting to flee the area.
During the daily briefing at Felda Sahabat Residence about 15kms from Tanduo village, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Ismail Omar confirmed that one of the 31 gunmen killed on Thursday was a leader of the Sulu gunmen.
He said this was based on the clothing found.
“We are still in the process of identifying this leader,” he added but refused to speculate on who it might be.
It is believed that the military leader is a former Moro National Liberation Front commander known as Haji Musa who is said to be a former general who once served in the Philippine army and in Vietnam.
Asked if Azzimudie, the brother of self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III, was among those killed, Ismail said: “We are still in the process of identifying this leader.”
In Manila, the Kiram family has claimed that Azzimudie is alive but admitted that 32 Sulu gunmen were killed on Thursday.
“He (Azzimudie) and his men are safe,” said Abraham Idjirani, spokesman for the Kiram family without giving specific details. This follows media speculation that Azzimudie was the general killed.
However, other Philippine media had reported that Azzimudie could be among 80 people who were in two motorboats intercepted entering Tawi Tawi waters from Sabah at about 9am yesterday.
This was denied by Philippine Task Force navy captain Rene Yongque who was quoted as saying that those in the boat were not members of the self-styled Sulu army nor were they armed.
He said they were ordinary people fleeing the gunfight in Sabah and were turned over to a task force handling the Sabah incident.
Meanwhile, rumours that 700 Sulu gunmen had entered Sabah were refuted by the IGP.
He said police had received information that such reports claiming the gunmen had entered Kota Kinabalu and Tawau were being circulated in the social media and via SMS.
“It is not true. Do not believe it unless confirmed by the police and military,” added Ismail.
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