Mar 4, 2013

Lahad Datu Crisis Six more killed in Semporna

LAHAD DATU (March 3, 2013): A superintendent was killed and his two subordinates were seriously injured in an ambush by gunmen on Saturday at a village off the coast of Semporna in Sabah during a surveillance operation.

The incident occurred about 180km from another bloody confrontation at the village of Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu on Friday between Malaysian security forces and intruding gunmen from the south Philippines.

Sources said the senior police officer in his 40s, who was the third policeman to be killed in the clashes, was attached to the federal special branch in Bukit Aman.

Two other policemen suffered serious injuries. As at 9am today, it is learnt that the police party remained entrapped in the village surrounded by the gunmen.

Reinforcement police teams deployed to the village are attempting to penetrate the area to disarm the attackers.

The superintendent had led three dozen police personnel in an operation at Kampung Sri Jaya Siminul in Semporna.

There were also reports that one of the injured policemen had succumbed to his injuries Sunday morning.

(According to a report by Bernama at 12.43pm, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar told reporters in Lahad Datu today that five policemen, one of them an officer, was killed in an ambush by armed intruders in Kampung Sri Jaya, Simunul, Semporna, Sabah, last night. He said two of the armed intruders were also killed.)

The operation in Semporna was launched at 4pm on Saturday following intelligence reports of the existence of a cache of firearms in the village, and that an uprising by certain groups of villagers believed to be of Southern Philippines origin and residing there was in the making.

About three hours into the operation, the team came under gunfire attack while it was scouring one village after another.

It is learnt that the superintendent who was the first to be hit by a hail of gunshots fired by hiding gunmen died moments later.

Sabah police commissioner DCP Datuk Hamza Taib had said on Saturday the attack may not be related to the Kampung Tanduo standoff.

Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar is expected to hold a press conference at 2pm today to update the media.

Sources from the Philippines authorities monitoring the Kampung Tanduo standoff said Friday's bloody clash that left 12 South Philippines gunmen dead may have provoked sentiments among their fellow followers living along the coastal villages between Tawau and Lahad Datu.

"These gunmen from the Sulu Sultanate are made up mainly of four tribes namely the Tausug, Majuindanao, Badjao and Samal. These tribes have great brotherhood among them and regardless of their nationalities, they will rise in show of loyalty to their ethnicity.

"It is no surprise if these tribes living in Malaysia join forces to fight the cause of their South Philippines counterparts.

"In South Philippines, these tribes also make up the bulk of MNLF and Abu Sayaf rebels, joining forces in an alliance of convenience to fight common causes. They are hardcore rebels who have battle in their blood and do not give up easily. It is not unusual for them fight to their death." said a source.

Friday's clash ended the 16-day standoff that began on Feb 12 with two police commandos of the General Operations Force elite VAT 69 killed and their three squad members severely injured.

The group of 150-odd Filipinos, supporters of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III who has staked an ancestral claim over Sabah, landed in Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu on Feb 12.

Kiram had said his supporters would only lay down their arms if the Philippines and Malaysia agreed to negotiate terms for the joint development of Sabah which the Sulu Sultanate once controlled before it was leased to the British in the 1870s and later became part of Malaysia. - source


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