Saturday, 2 March 2013

14 dead, 3 hurt as Lahad Datu siege ends

Well, I'm not sure if this is the end of it.

But let's pray that they'll be no more blood shed and that our security forces deal with it intelligently. Our hearts go to the slain, brave members of the RMAF and dedicated men in Lahad Datu.

Lahad Datu siege ends

KUALA LUMPUR, March 1 — The three-week siege by armed Filipino rebels in Lahad Datu, Sabah, ended today with 14 killed and three wounded after Malaysian security forces exchanged gunfire with the rebels, police confirmed today. The Star Online also reported the police as saying that a curfew has been in place at Lahad Datu town and surrounding areas since 4pm.

“I am very sad over the incident because what we had wanted to prevent, which is bloodshed, had actually happened,” Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was quoted as saying today by The Star Online. Twelve Filipino gunmen and two Malaysian commandos were slain. Three Malaysian policemen were injured too.

Sabah police commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib was quoted by The Star Online today as saying that it was the Filipino rebels who had opened fire on the Malaysian security forces.

“Our men stumbled upon several of the intruders who fired at them, forcing our police to return fire,” said Hamza. A son of rebel group leader Agbimuddin Kiram, however, said earlier today that it was the Malaysian authorities who had shot at them first.

The number of those wounded among the Filipino group is unknown at press time.

Today’s death toll exceeded the 1985 shoot-out, where 11 people died when gunmen, believed to be from the southern Philippines, entered Lahad Datu and fired at random before robbing the local branch of Standard Chartered Bank. The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s online news site reported Malaysian ambassador to the Philippines, Mohammad Zamri Mohammad Kassim, as saying today that 10 Filipino rebels have surrendered.

About 180 Filipino rebels, including 30 gunmen, invaded Sabah on February 9 and had refused to leave before today’s fatal shootout, despite pleas from the Malaysian and Philippine governments.

Philippine Foreign Affairs secretary Albert Del Rosario reportedly requested today for full access to the rebel group so that the Philippine government can provide medical treatment and consular assistance.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Free Radio Sarawak as saying that the Felda Sahabat 17 oil palm plantation near Kampung Tanduo, where the rebels have been holed up, was filled with an “uncanny silence”.

Lahad Datu, which is about 130km away from the battle site, was also described as a “ghost town’, with all shops in the town centre closed as army patrols moved about, with some standing guard at schools and the district hospital. The armed group, suspected of being a faction of a Philippine Muslim rebel group, claims to belong to the “royal army” of the Sulu sultanate.

The bizarre drama had threatened to stir tension between the Southeast Asian neighbours whose ties have been periodically frayed by security and migration problems caused by a porous sea border.

News wire Reuters has reported that Malaysia pays a token sum to the Sultanate of Sulu each year for the “rental” of Sabah — an arrangement that stretches back to British colonial times.

Source: Yahoo News