UPDATED @ 11:27:16 AM 05-03-2013
March 5, 2013
Malaysian Army takes on the Lahad Datu Invaders
The Army launched an attack on the Filipino intruders at Kampung Tanduo, Felda Sahabat in Lahad Datu at 7am today, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said in a statement today. The Star Online reported that fresh fighting began between the Sulu gunmen and security forces early this morning. Soldiers are already on the ground in the village, it added.
Gunshots were heard and fighter jets were seen circling around the Felda Sahabat plantation. Explosions were heard for 40 minutes in Kampung Tanduo, the daily reported.
Armed Forces personnel prepare to board a flight for Sabah, in Sepang on March 3, 2013. — Picture taken from @tonyfernandes.
The group of 200 armed men, claiming to be the Royal Sulu Sultanate Army, had landed on February 9 to revive their Sultan’s claim for the Borneo state.
Armed Forces Chief Gen Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin said yesterday seven more battalions have been sent to Sabah since Saturday, with five in Lahad Datu and one each based in Sandakan and Tawau.
Zulkifeli said although the armed Filipino militants were present only in Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu as well as Kampung Lormalong and Kampung Dasar Lama in Kunak, security personnel were deployed to Sandakan and Tawau to provide security for residents there.
“We are collaborating with the Police and their security forces to protect our country,” he said. A fleet of military trucks ferrying army personnel was spotted heading to Kampung Tanduo in Felda Sahabat, which is said to be twice the size of Singapore with its 57 plantations.
National Security Council secretary Datuk Mohamed Thajudeen Abdul Wahab told the New Straits Times that there had been an increase in the number of personnel from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, marine police, navy and air force patrolling and conducting surveillance over the past two days.
The Star Online reported that continuous explosions could be heard as the police and army moved in on the gunmen who are reportedly firing back.The situation around Tanjung Labian, about 7km from Kampung Tanduo, was tense as more than 300 villagers huddled in a community hall kept on hearing the explosions.
News portal Malaysiakini reported that fleeing villagers from Kampung Sungai Merah, about 2km from the gun battle, were seen squeezed onto lorries, with close to 50 of them on each vehicle leaving the area.
The Star Online also reported that fighter jets screamed over Kampung Tanduo, followed by artillery fire. At least six continuous explosions were heard and journalists at the Sahabat 16 resort said the jets looped back flying low.
It also reported that military trucks were seen going into the battle field. Elite military and Police squads were also on the ground and believed to be involved in shootouts with the Filipino militants.
In Lahad Datu, about 120km from the battle field, preparations are being made at the main hospital to receive casualties.