Kampung Tanduo declared 'free of terrorists'

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Lahad Datu (The Star/ANN) - Malaysian security forces fully secured ground zero at Kampung Tanduo and raised the Malaysian flag there as the guns fell silent after a week of heavy bombardment and sporadic fire fights.

Twenty-two bodies of the Sulu terrorists were brought out yesterday and sent for post-mortem to the Lahad Datu and Tawau hospitals as mopping-up operations continued.

Declaring that the operations for remnant gunmen within Tanduo had ended, Sabah Police Commissioner Hamza Taib said the focus was now on Kampung Tanjung Batu and Kampung Sungai Bilis.

When asked at the daily Ops Daulat briefing at Felda Sahabat 16 Residence Resort if there was any shooting yesterday, he said: "So far, no."

Hamza added that the security forces were in the final stages of clearing the gunmen in neighbouring villages from where nearly 2,000 people have fled to stay in community halls in Felda Sahabat.

Although life in Semporna and Lahad Datu is returning to normal, he reminded villagers not to re-enter Tanjung Batu and Sungai Bilis, which are still classified as red zones.

On the bodies sent to the hospitals in Lahad Datu (18 bodies) and Tawau (four), Hamza said he could not comment on a purported statement by a forensic officer that one of the bodies was that of Haji Musa, a general of Sulu group leader Raja Muda Azzimudie Kiram.

"I cannot say if that is the body of Haji Musa as it was not in uniform when it was found," he said.

It is believed that Haji Musa, of Bajau ethnic origin, was a former general of the Philippines army and, later, a commander of the Moro National Liberation Front led by Nur Misuari.

Villagers have claimed that a son of a former Tanduo village political leader involved in a land dispute with Felda was married to Haji Musa's daughter.

They said Haji Musa, in his late 60s, had many relatives in Sungai Bilis and wore the uniform of a brigadier-general of the so-called Sulu royal army.

The fate of Azzimudie, 72, a former assistant district officer of Kudat and also married to the daughter of a local village head, is still unknown.

Meanwhile, the Kiram family had reportedly sought the assistance of the Philippine government to discuss a disengagement of his followers' armed incursion into Sabah when they forcibly occupied Kampung Tanduo and raised three "Sulu flags" with the tiger insignia.

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