Hornbill Unleashed

March 4, 2013

12 dead, including 6 cops, in Semporna firefight

Nigel Aw

The firefight at Kampung Sri Jaya Simunul in Semporna has resulted in a total of 12 dead, says inspector-general of police Ismail Omar.

The police suffered six casualties, up one from what was initially reported, he told a press conference at Felda Sabahat Residence, Lahad Datu tonight.

“After our operation ended at 7pm today. We found another body of our police officer, so the total is six,” he said.

Ismail added that police also discovered six other bodies whose identities could not be ascertained.

“We believe they are the bodies of the enemies,” he said.

He added that all of surviving 19 police officers who had gone into the village were safely out of the village.

“We have gotten all of them out safely and they are now at the Semporna district police headquarters.

“With this latest development, the Semporna incident is over and the situation has returned to normal,” he said.

Police were not trapped

According to a Bernama report this evening, Kampung Simunul has remained calm as most of the people chose to stay indoor today after the ambush incident.

Bernama checked around the village found that hundreds of the villagers had also taken a precautionary measure by leaving their homes to stay with relatives at nearby villages.

“Everyday at dusk we will start staying indoor for fear of our safety,” a resident, Mohd Shah Ibrahim, 63, said.

Meanwhile the bodies of the killed police officers have also been recovered, said the IGP.

Ismail added that a criminal investigation team is now there to mop up the area and determine the identities of the unknown bodies.

Ismail insisted that at no stage were any police officers held hostage when asked if the 19 police survivors were trapped in the village.

“There are over 300 houses there, it’s a very large area and we wanted to check house to house (to ensure there were no other police officers left) before we made a statement on them,” he said.

He added that the names of the police officers killed in action would be released only after all their families are notified.

Asked if one of the police officer killed was beheaded, Ismail replied, “The bodies have been brought to the hospital and I am waiting for the report. Don’t believe in rumours.”

Biggest security crisis in years

This latest clash is described by AFP as Malaysia’s biggest security crisis of recent years, occurred when police were “ambushed” by gunmen, Ismail told reporters this morning.

Semporna is 150km from Tanduo village, where an estimated 100-300 people have been encircled by Malaysian police and soldiers since landing by boat from the Philippines on Feb 12 to claim the area for their leader.

The 74-year-old Manila-based leader, Jamalul Kiram III, claims to be heir to the Islamic sultanate of Sulu, which once controlled parts of the southern Philippines and the modern-day Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island.

Malaysian officials called for calm but various reports painted a picture of chaos in the area.

It was not immediately made clear whether the Semporna attackers were still at large. Meanwhile, Ismail said police were pursuing yet another group of armed men in Kunak, another town in the region.

“I don’t want speculation that Sabah is in crisis,” Ismail told an earlier news conference. “We have our security forces at three places to respond.”

The new incidents sparked Malaysian fears of a wider campaign by other intruders or their supporters in Sabah, which has large numbers of Filipino immigrants – both legal and illegal.

The Philippine embassy in Kuala Lumpur issued a statement urging calm among Filipinos. “We feel and understand the anxieties felt by many of you at these difficult times,” it said.

“This is not the time to undertake any action that might be misunderstood by some parties.”

The situation is delicate for the Southeast Asian neighbours.

Sabah crisis slap in the face for Najib

The Philippine government is looking to consolidate recent progress in mending fences with Islamic separatists in its partly Muslim south.

The government of Muslim-majority Malaysia, meanwhile, could face pressure at home if harsh action is taken against the Islamic Filipino intruders, which also could inflame Sabah’s many Filipinos.

Following Friday’s firefight Malaysian police threatened “drastic action” if they did not surrender.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino, who has sharply criticised the intruders, has also urged them to give up.

But Kiram’s spokesman Abraham Idjirani repeated today his followers would not budge. He said the sultan would seek the intervention of the United States, which colonised the Philippines in the early 1900s.

“(Malaysians) want to hide the truth – that they do not own Sabah. It is owned by us,” he said in an interview on Philippine radio.

Sabah state police chief Hamza Taib said several villagers in Semporna beat to death a man armed with a M-16 rifle who had gathered several people at a mosque on Sunday.

The sensational events have embarrassed Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak – who must call elections by June – by exposing lax border security and fuelling perceptions of lawlessness and massive illegal immigration into Sabah.

If security in Sabah worsens, Najib could be forced to delay the election and he would be vulnerable to criticism over the government’s handling of the problem.

Intrusion could be linked to Moro peace deal

Lim Kit Siang, a top opposition leader, said the government was not being forthcoming enough with information from Sabah and the police fatalities “could have been avoided if the whole situation had been properly handled”.

The Sulu sultanate’s power faded about a century ago but it has continued to receive nominal Malaysian payments for Sabah under a lease deal inherited from European colonial powers.

Kiram’s people are demanding Malaysia recognise that the sultanate owns Sabah and share profits from economic development in the state.

According to Reuters, the trouble looks to be at least partly the result of efforts to forge peace in the southern Philippines, in particular a peace deal signed between the Philippine government and Muslim rebels last October to end a 40-year conflict.

Jamalul Kiram, a former sultan of Sulu and brother of the man Philippine provincial authorities regard as sultan, said the peace deal had handed control of much of Sulu to Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels, ignoring the sultanate.

The sultan loyalists had gone to Malaysia to revive their claim to Sabah as a protest in response to what they saw as the unfair peace deal, he said.


  1. It should be all intruders dead … all polis safe and no sweat

    Comment by tigeryk — March 5, 2013 @ 11:47 AM | Reply

  2. It was politically correct for Pakatan to call for a Parliamentary session on the Lahad Datu invasion. Umno led BN should own up to the blunder in mishandling the situation. Why were Umno’s politicians actively involved in the negotiation when it should be the country’s top security officers who should be totally in charge from day one.?

    Comment by Ahmad Madon — March 4, 2013 @ 4:58 PM | Reply




    Comment by Anonymous — March 4, 2013 @ 2:41 PM | Reply

  4. Mahathir who was the mastermind for Project IC or Project M should be at the forefront leading our armies and police to fight against the armed intruders. It will be a more honourable way for him to die that way than to be executed for committing treason while serving as premier.

    Comment by Peter Utim — March 4, 2013 @ 1:16 PM | Reply

  5. C4 is reserved for female tourists only, from Mongolia

    Submarine is more like a toy

    Comment by tigeryk — March 4, 2013 @ 1:15 PM | Reply

  6. Lahad Datu Invasion. What has seriously gone wrong with our home security? Najib should stop his nonsensical politicking and order an investigation into our flawed security along our borders. Probing if there was indeed a mastermind behind the intrusion of armed militants only gave the impression that Najib was cooking up excuses and constantly on the trail of suppressing Opposition leaders. Where are the billion ringgit submarines and what has happened to the recent purchase of six naval patrol boats costing Malaysians RM9 billion? Our Armies and Police cannot even detect a few hundred heavily armed foreign intruders let alone protecting our nation after having spent tens of billion ringgits in defence procurement in just the last five years.

    Comment by SK Subramanaim — March 4, 2013 @ 7:50 AM | Reply

    • Malaysia helped in creating the MNLF in the 1970’s. In fact, the first few batches of MNLF cadres trained inside Malaysia and they were supplied with weapons and other logistics. Malaysia did this in order to pressure President Marcos into dropping the Sabah claim. These armed group now holed up in Lahad Datu are the product of the Muslim rebellion in Mindanao in the 1970’s. They are the children of the MNLF fighters which Malaysia created and are now SHITTING in Malaysia’s own backyard as they could well be ‘Sabah citizens’ with valid ICs from Project IC! They have the Blue IC brothers and sisters to provide them with local support. It is like a Communist Insurgents in 1970 who had the support of the the local population. Intruders have their Blue IC brethens who are numbered in thousand in Sabah. This is something that we should reckon with. It’s called Karma courtsy of our ex-PM.

      Comment by Surendran — March 4, 2013 @ 11:52 AM | Reply

    • Subra, few hundred billion ringgit can easily laundered out of Malaysia under Bn government while Malaysians have been demanding for better infrastructure, schools, hospitals,higher income, lower taxes, cheaper cars etc had fallen on deaf ears. Now a few hundred heavily armed militants can easily walk into our country and had fought with our security forces. Just like that! On top of that tens of billion ringgit had been spent on defence weapons and naval boats. Had the ministry of defence been buying high tech remote control toys ? What has become of our country and the sitting government ? Malaysians of all races and religions can no longer be divided on the above issues and glaring weaknesses in Bn government caused by blatant corruption in the government system. We must put our feet down and vote out Umno led Bn totally .

      Comment by Bidayuh Headmaster — March 4, 2013 @ 1:05 PM | Reply

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