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LAST_UPDATESat, 20 Jan 2018 10pm

'It Was A Well-Planned Attack On Sabah'

Filepic of a special police force guarding the area where the armed Filipino men are holding off, in a plantation outside Lahad Datu. Pic: ReutersFilepic of a special police force guarding the area where the armed Filipino men are holding off, in a plantation outside Lahad Datu. Pic: ReutersKUALA LUMPUR: It was so well-planned that they managed to fool everybody – even our security and intelligence units.

Sending decoys and coming in batches, the invaders of Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu also had help from their brethren who were already living and working in Lahad Datu.

High-placed sources told The Malay Mail that the 189 militia said to be representing the Sultan of Sulu had started arriving in batches to Felda Sahabat 17 between Feb 3 and Feb 11.

As a decoy, some of them were elderly men and women, but they were armed with automatic weapons and with handguns provided by locals – a plan that fooled the authorities here, who even went as far as labelling them "a bunch of old men with rusty rifles."

However, the more sophisticated weapons comprising M-16s and explosives were supplied by the arms trade within Sulu waters – part of the Basilan black market – the illegal arms trade network comprising the southern Philippines and North Borneo territories.

While police are not confirming this, it is understood that Sulukans – people with Sulu ties who are living in Sabah – are being searched for weapons.

"Philippine security forces are also now working with our government and will be there until final assault is done," said a source.

The invaders were led by Agbumuddin Kiram, the younger brother of Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III, who had demanded a return of parts of Lahad Datu which is claimed as part of the Sulu Kingdom – and also to bring the Philippines' claim over Sabah back to the negotiating table.

The invaders had subtly evacuated children, old folks and many of the womenfolk from the village – in anticipation of the bloodshed that was going to be spilt.

Sabah police chief Datuk Hamza Taib confirmed to The Malay Mail that there were no children in the village.

Army general Tan Sri Zulkifli Mat Zain yesterday said the intruders have shown combat experience and adeptness in insurgency tactics.

He added that they were also well-armed, with rocket launchers, among others.

Another source said they are well-trained by Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Abu Sayyaf.

- Terence Fernandez / The Malay Mail

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