IGP: “We are on top of the situation. We are taking steps to ensure this will be resolved in the best way possible.”
KUALA LUMPUR: The Inspector-General of Police yesterday hit out at allegations that the force was soft in handling the standoff situation in Lahad Datu which entered the 9th day today.
Police were still in negotiations with the 100-odd armed intruders, claiming to be from the Royal Sulu Army, who have been holding the authorities at bay in Kampung Tanduo, a coastal village about 90 km from Lahad Datu since Feb 12.
“You can make your own assumptions,” Tan Sri Ismail Omar responded to repeated questions about the authorities’ refusal to act against the armed intruders.
“We are on top of the situation. We are taking steps to ensure this will be resolved in the best way possible.”
Ismail was speaking to reporters at KL Sentral after announcing the statistics of the recently concluded Ops Selamat.
“I ask everyone not to worry. We have this under our control,” said an agitated Ismail.
He was echoing Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, who on Tuesday, visited the General Operations Force 17th Battalion in Sahabat 16 at Felda Sahabat oil palm plantation scheme.
Hishammuddin had said that the security forces were in control of the situation and warned the intruders not to do anything which will jeopardise the situation.
He had also warned that the security forces were “ready to do what was necessary” if the safety of the security forces and nearby villagers were threatened.
Hishammuddin had said that the group would be given more time to retreat and return to the Philippines without bloodshed. The group, however, have demanded they meet with a descendant of the Sulu Sultanate from the Philippines first, before agreeing to be deported.
Security forces, made up of police and armed forces, have cordoned off the area, making it impossible for the group to bring in reinforcements as rumoured.
Most of the nearby villagers have fled and the intruders have reportedly raided several houses in the village in search of food and supplies.
The intruders are demanding recognition and asked that those of Sulu heritage in Malaysia not be deported to the Philippines.
By ELIZABETH ZACHARIAH NST
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