Tuesday, March 5, 2013

IGP: Security forces on careful hunt for enemies

Security forces have mounted a "careful hunt for enemies" following this morning's military assault on Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu, Sabah, said Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar.

"The mopping-up and search operations cover an area of 4 sq km and I believe there are still enemies in the operations area," he told a press conference at Sahabat Felda Residence, Lahad Datu this evening.

"I have instructed the commanders on the ground to be very careful as I do not want to see any casualties. Therefore it is progressing slowly, on top of the terrain challenges."

Ismail said he is still not able to confirm the number of casualties.

He denied allegations reported in the Philippine media that bodies of the intruders had been desecrated.

"How can anyone make such an allegation without verifying the facts?" he said.

Asked whether any intruders could have escaped the operations zone, he replied: "Of course we hope they have not escaped, but the enemies could still be in the operations zone, so we are moving slowly."

It's now 'Ops Daulat'

The police chief only took one question from journalists before ending the press conference.

Malaysian security forces began the assault at 7am with an aerial assault using three F18 fighter jets, before ground troops moved in.

It is unclear if the operations covered neighbouring Tanjung Batu which locals had claimed the intruders had taken over and are allegedly holding villagers hostage.

The operation has been renamed 'Ops Daulat' (Operation Sovereignty) from 'Ops Sulu', which had been used for more than three weeks of the stand-off between security forces and the self-styled Royal Sulu Army from the defunct Sulu sultanate.