LAHAD DATU, March 13 – The security forces believe that the leader of the armed group who intruded into Lahad Datu, Azzimudie Kiram, is still entrenched with the terrorists at Kampung Tanjung Batu, 130 kilometres from Lahad Datu town, since Feb 12. Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib was certain that Azzimudie had never left the area.
“As the leader, he would not run away. We believe he is still with the group,” he said at a press conference together with the Army First Infantry Division Chief, Maj-Gen Datuk Ahmad Zaki Mokhtar at the operations headquarters, Felda Sahabat 16, near here today.
Hamza said this belief was based on the strict security maintained by the security forces in the red zone of the ‘Ops Daulat’ area including sea route. After nine days of ‘Ops Daulat’, the security forces had shot dead 56 enemies and 25 of the remains of the militant intruders had been taken out of the red zone.
Hamza said 156 people were detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 and read together with Section 130 (c) of the Penal Code for being in the red zone of the operations area while 97 individuals were detained for investigation as they were suspected to be involved with the terrorists.
So far, 10 members of the security forces had been killed comprising eight police personnel and two soldiers. One of the soldiers was killed in a road accident at Km37 Lahad Datu-Kampung Tungku Road. Hamza said no clashes were reported since last night up to 10am today and the operations had now been extended to Sungai Nyamuk near Tanjung Batu.
Asked when the residents of Kampung Tanduo could return to their homes, he said the matter had not been decided yet because several factors had to be studied.
“There are only 10 houses there. Many aspects had to be considered including whether the land they are staying on belonged to them and the status of their citizenship.