HAVEN FOR IMMIGRANTS: 33 held after house-to-house search in terrorist hideout
THE leader of the terrorist group in Sabah, Agbimuddin Kiram, was believed to have given security forces the slip when they raided a settlement in Kampung Pinggir Bakau, here, yesterday.
Agbimuddin, the brother of Jamalul Kiram III, the self-proclaimed sultan of Sulu, was believed to have been hiding in the settlement with several other terrorists who escaped the onslaught in Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu, which began on Tuesday.
The security forces, however, nabbed 33 suspects, including four believed to be involved in the shootout in Simunul on March 2 which claimed the lives of six policemen and six terrorists.
Also nabbed yesterday were four women who were the "eyes and ears" of the terrorist group and had also provided them food.
Police said the 6.30am raid involving some 100 police officers, including the elite Special Action Force (UTK), was instigated by a tip-off that Agbimuddin and his lieutenants were hiding in the settlement. He is believed to have slipped out in the middle of the commotion.
A source told the New Straits Times that Kampung Pinggir Bakau was known as a haven for illegal immigrants from southern Philippines and served as a perfect hideout for Agbimuddin and his men.
District police chief Deputy Superintendent Mohd Firdaus Francis Abdullah said the 33 had been nabbed during a house-to-house search which lasted three hours. They were all illegal immigrants.
Firdaus, however, said no firearms were found during the operation.
A check by New Straits Times at the settlement near a mangrove swamp saw heavily armed UTK officers clad in bulletproof vests and body armour guarding the main road leading into the area.
The detainees were transported in a police truck to the district police headquarters.
In another development, police found an axe, believed to have been the weapon used to mutilate one of the murdered policemen, during a search operation in Jalan 5, Kampung Simunul, on Saturday.
A team of policemen, including commandos and forensics unit officers, had conducted a house- to-house search at Kampung Simunul and neighbouring Kampung Srijaya 1. Several officers were seen holding bags containing seized items.