LAHAD DATU: Police recovered 13 bodies of Sulu gunmen during their ‘mopping up’ and search operations at Kampung Tanduo yesterday.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said 12 of the bodies were found buried in shallow graves in two separate locations within the red zone, while the other was that of an intruder killed during a shoot-out around 6.45am.
“After the ‘mopping up’ and search operations, the forensics team was sent in to check the bodies. Even so, it was not safe because at 1.45pm, they were attacked, but, thankfully, no one got injured,” he told a media briefing at Felda Sahabat.
It appeared that the Sulu intruders performed a mass burial for their fallen comrades as nine bodies were found in one grave, while another three were buried in another.
Several photographs of the ‘Ops Daulat’ taken by the security forces were distributed to the media, including photographs of the terrorists’ bodies in a grave. Also distributed was the photograph of a forensic personnel who was attacked by the intruders while inspecting a grave in the village and firearms seized by the security forces.
Ahmad Zahid slammed criticism over the handling of the stand-off, which is entering its fourth week in the social media that belittled the action of the security forces’ front line by describing it as a drama.
“This is not staged. It is reality, and we cannot move fast due to the geographical land form of the area.
“We hope the social media will not undermine the work done here. This may be the first collaboration between the police and armed forces, but we are doing a good job.
“These photographs show that our security forces have the efficiency to carry out the operation. This is not a drama,” he said.
Also present at the briefing was Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.
Meanwhile, in the security forces believed they have gunned down more intruders in another shootout in Kampung Tanjung Batu, here, yesterday.
However, Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said they had yet to ascertain the number of enemies slain.
“Operations begun at 3pm in Kampung Tanjung Batu (some five kilometres from Kampung Tanduo). Shots were fired at around 4.15pm and there was exchange of fire. We believe several of them were shot but cannot ascertain the number as yet. “We believe they are still in hiding in the kampung,” he said during a joint media briefing with Armed Forces Chief General Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin yesterday.
There were two clashes around the village as members of the military forces and police carried out sweeping and mopping operations. “Thankfully none from our security forces were injured in the two shootouts,” said Zulkifeli.
He said the mopping up and search operations were carried out as planned. Both Zulkifeli and Ismail thanked Malaysians for the text messages and words of encouragement for them and the security forces. “We thank Malaysians for their confidence and trust in us,” said Zulkifeli.