Lahad Datu: Security forces yesterday launched an offensive against the armed intruders in Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu, in Sabah at 7am.
The offensive began with an aerial attack as three explosions were heard 30 minutes later from the direction of the coastal village in Felda Sahabat 17.
F-18 and Hawk fighter aircrafts were used in the aerial attack - followed by the firing of mortar and a ground assault by the army.
Later, the team of commandos at the frontline cordoning off the area was seen approaching the village, followed by members of the General Operations Force.
Bernama reporters staying at the Felda Residence Sahabat Hotel in Felda Sahabat 16, about 20 kilometres from Kampung Tanduo, reported that the third explosion was so huge that it caused the hotel's windows to vibrate strongly.
Speaking to reporters here yesterday, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said none of the Malaysian security personnel were injured or killed during the offensive.
He added that police were now being extra cautious in their mopping-up and search operation following the offensive.
"We believe the enemy could still be present in the area of operation, estimated to be four square kilometres.
"I do not want any of the security forces' personnel to fall victim to the intruders," he said.
Ismail also dismissed a Philippine media report claiming that the intruders, from the army of the self-proclaimed Sulu Sultanate, found the corpse of a Malaysian security forces' personnel and that corpses of the intruders had been desecrated.
"It (the claim) is absolutely incorrect. I am disappointed by the report. They should refer to the official sources," he said.
The national police chief also said such reports were propaganda which could undermine public order in Sabah.
And yesterday, the security forces also conducted house-to-house search for intruders who may have escaped.
In Kuala Lumpur Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said in a statement said the government had to take appropriate action in the defence of the nation's sovereignty and honour as demanded by Malaysians after measures to avert bloodshed failed.
"Our security forces were attacked and killed. Malaysians, particularly those in Sabah, are worried about their safety," he said.
Najib said the armed intruders from southern Philippines, who claimed to be from the so-called Sulu army, fired at policemen on duty in Lahad Datu last Friday, killing two of them, and then killed six more policemen in Semporna on the following day.
"After the first attack, I stressed that the intruders must surrender themselves or the security authorities will have to act," he said.
Najib said that following the armed intrusion in Lahad Datu on February 12, the government adopted the approach of resolving the issue without bloodshed.
"The police held meetings and negotiations in the hope that the intruders would agree to leave peacefully without the need to take any serious legal action," he said.
The Prime Minister said that Malaysia, as a peace-loving Islamic nation, wanted to resolve the issue through negotiation but the attempt to avert bloodshed in Lahad Datu failed.
"As the issue of the intrusion prolonged, it was evident to the authorities that the intruders have no intention of withdrawing from Sabah," he said.
Meanwhile, journalists covering the incident at Felda Sahabat were advised to leave the beach resort where they have been putting up since the armed intrusion as part of safety measures.
They were escorted by security personnel to Cendrawasih, some 15km from the Felda Beach Resort.
Also present at the press conference were armed forces chief General Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, Bukit Aman's director of internal security and public order Datuk Salleh Mat Rasid and Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib.
--Courtesy of New Sabah Times