Lahad Datu Incursion: Malaysian Military in Action

March 6, 2013

Lahad Datu Incursion: Malaysian Military in Action

M Jegathesan,

8:36PM March 5, 2013

The military today launched a fierce assault including jet fighters on up to 300 Filipino intruders after a deadly three-week standoff, but the militants’ supporters said they had escaped and were alive and well.

Earlier Federal Police chief had also raised doubts about the success of the air and ground attack, saying “mopping up” operations had yet to find any bodies and suggesting at least some of the militants might have slipped away.

lahad datu 050313 soldier with gun 01Premier Najib Abdul Razak said as the raid was under way that he had no choice but to unleash the military to end Malaysia’s biggest security crisis in years after the interlopers refused to surrender and 27 people were killed.

A day after the Philippines called for restraint, Malaysia launched a dawn assault on the estimated 100-300 gunmen on Borneo island, who invaded to claim Malaysian territory on behalf of a former Philippine sultanate.

lahad datu 050313 soldier with gun 02Fighter jets bombed the standoff village of Tanduo in Sabah state on the northern tip of Borneo island, followed by a ground assault by troops. The area is set amid vast oil-palm plantations.

“The longer this invasion lasts, it is clear to the authorities that the invaders do not intend to leave Sabah,” Najib said in a statement.

But Abraham Idjirani, spokesman for the Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, told AFP the attack had occurred “away from where” their men were, saying he spoke with the leader of the armed group about eight hours after the assault was launched.

IGP: Enemies are still out there

Malaysian Federal Police chief Ismail Omar told reporters in a press conference hours after the initial attack that soldiers combing across a wide area of hilly plantation country were yet to find any dead militants.

lahad datu 050313 ismail omar“I have instructed my commanders to be on alert because we believe the enemies are still out there,” Ismail said.

He added Malaysian forces had suffered no casualties. But if even some of the invaders had escaped a tight Police and military cordon, it would likely fuel perceptions of incompetence by security forces in the affair, and sow fears that armed and dangerous gunmen were loose.

The crisis comes just as Malaysia’s 56-year-old ruling coalition is bracing for what are widely expected to be the country’s closest-ever election against a formidable opposition, which has harshly criticised handling of the incursion.

Jamalul Kiram III, 74, a self-proclaimed Sultan and leader of the insurgents said earlier Tuesday in Manila that the invaders, which had included his younger brother “will fight to the last man”.

Muslim-majority Malaysia has been shocked by the spectacularly bold stunt by the Islamists, who claim to be asserting Jamalul’s ancestral control of Sabah as heir to the now defunct Sulu sultanate.

The invaders had been holed up in Tanduo village since landing by boat last month, highlighting lax Malaysian security in the region and the continuing threat from southern Philippine Islamists.

Manila blamed intruders

After the assault began, Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman blamed the intruders for the assault. “We’ve done everything we could to prevent this, but in the end, Kiram’s people chose this path,” said the spokesman, Ricky Carandang.

After a lengthy standoff, violence first erupted in Tanduo on Friday with a shootout that left 12 of the gunmen and two police officers dead.

Another gunbattle Saturday in the town of Semporna, hours away by road, killed six Police and six gunmen, raising fears of a wider guerrilla infiltration and leading to Tuesday’s military operation.

Police had already said at the weekend they were hunting for a group of “foreign” gunmen in yet another town, but have provided no further updates. Meanwhile, followers of Kiram, have repeatedly warned that yet more militants were poised to land in Sabah.

lahad datu 050313 soldiers on truckThe mayhem has triggered panic in Semporna, where many residents were witnessed by an AFP reporter fleeing the town on Monday, fearing more violence.

The Sulu sultanate, based in the southern Philippines’ Sulu islands, once controlled parts of Borneo including Sabah.

Its power faded about a century ago but its heirs continue to insist on ownership of resource-rich Sabah and still receive nominal Malaysian payments under a lease deal originally struck by Western colonial powers.

Sabah has seen small raids by Islamic militants and criminals coming by boat from the Philippines before, but nothing on the current scale.


11 thoughts on “Lahad Datu Incursion: Malaysian Military in Action

  1. I think we all misunderstood their ( Tausugs ) Sultan Sulu’s men main intention,they came when they heard that the Sabah’s Govt were giving away Blue Ic’s,of course they can’t leave their weapons behind,it’s too precious and too expensive to buy if they loose them and that’s why too the wife of the Sultan of Sulu says that they were here on picnic,just waiting for them officials to pass them their IC’s, Hiyaaa so simple one,the shooting only started becoz of miscommunication between the JPN and the Police,that’s all to it.They gather that this is the best time to get themselves Malaysian citizenship coz if Opposiotion wins in Sabah then they can forget it…Oouch!!!

  2. Pity we don’t have drones. Drones would have zapped them almost as soon as they switch on their mobiles to say ‘hello’ to their Mums! And yes, Ocho Onda, an AH-64 [Apache] or an A-10 [Thunderbolt] are more appropriate, but we can’t afford them. But nothing beats men on the ground and cutting off their food supply. Let them eat bullets!

  3. Mo Halim,
    Drones or UAVs more appropriate. In fact, you can have drones round the clock survelliance. It’s far cheaper than buying a sub that can’t sink. Plus few or in fact no casualties at all. The only problem is that the renegades can do the same

  4. Conversation overheard in Putrajaya:

    “Helicopter gunships, drones ??”

    “Hey that’s a very good idea. We definitely can make another few hundred million USD in commissions.”

    “Who can we use this time”

    “Not RD again. He screwed up big time previously. Get someone else.”

  5. Soldiers of my generation – the 2nd Emergency era (!975-89) – are ready to take up arms to combat the intruders. We are prepared to be mobilised. And that includes yours truly. The body may be weak but there’s still plenty of oomph left.

    We don’t need much just a little food and water. We don’t need Jibby, Kerismuddin, the now-u-see now-u-don’t defence minister and the unimaginative mat kampau, IGP to tell us what to do. We’ll do the planning and the fighting. Our experience fighting the CTs will come in handy.

  6. Safety and security of the people of Kampong Tanduo, Lahad Datu Sabah Semporna, Sandakan and even Tawau and in general, the people of Sabah, are now of the utmost importance – Hussaini Abdul Karim

    Our Armed Forces have proven their capability once again and I am sure the confidence the people have in them remains unchanged.

    However, our security forces must not rest on their laurels as there is still plenty of unfinished business for them to sort out.

    Their continued presence must still be seen and felt by the people until such time the situation becomes better and the threat is diminished.

    As in any incident that involves two sides, especially those that resulted in the loss of lives, there will always be supporters and dissenters. The authorities must be to handle this tricky situation well.

    The situation is now different with a major event, the general election, looming soon. The trauma that the people, especially those from Kampong Tanduo, Lahad Datu, Semporna and Sandakan and all Sabahans in general went through the last two weeks must be cleared and the fear in them must also be overcome.

    Needless to say, the remnants, sympathisers, supporters and followers of the royal army of the Sultanate of Sulu are now spread all over the state with some hiding in states other than Sabah. Many would probably have gone home. The hardcore amongst them may be planning to retaliate to avenge the death of their comrades at the hands of the Malaysian security forces. This cannot be ruled out.

    A proper heart and mind campaign should have already been planned and implemented.

    Flushing of illegals should be carried out not just in Sabah but nationwide and those that have committed crimes must be tried and punished.

    The police and the immigration must be strict in carrying out their duties and overall, the security forces, police and the military, must be alert at all times.

    See here:

  7. It took them so long to decide on attacking this foreign intruder If our own fellow country man took arms like al maunah, Ibrahim libya etc the decision to kill is issue as fast as lightning

  8. royal army my derriere! Even the Filipino Govt doesn’t recognise it ‘royal’ status and why must the m’sian media, bloggers even authorities keep calling them as such? royal my derriere, i say again.

  9. Zak
    Drones commission very little as compared to submarines. Also Eagle aircraft in Melaka makes UAVs and can easily be acquired, but no opportunities for commission except for the avionics and cameras. Thus very little interest.

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