Claims of armed incursion in Lahad Datu taken seriously: Police

LAHAD DATU: Claims by a plantation worker of spotting five armed men in military fatigues at the Felda Sahabat 2 oil palm plantation has raised concerns of a similar incursion like that which occurred in 2013, Lahad Datu.

The worker claimed he spotted the five armed men when he was working at a banana plantation in the evening and was approached by them.

According to the man, a Filipino descent, the gunmen chatted with him in Tagalog after asking him if he was from Indonesia or the Philippines.

The gunmen told him not to fear them as their presence was to "save Sabah" and that there were 37 others who have arrived in Sabah soil for the purpose.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Ramli Din said yesterday that the 52-year-old man told police in his report on Sunday that the incident occurred on April 30 but he decided to only lodge a report two weeks later.

"We do not take such claims lightly and investigations including an intense surveillance exercise is ongoing. However, it must also be noted that over the months we had received such claims from individuals in the area which turned out to be false," he told theSun when contacted.

Ramli cited a case three months ago when a plantation worker made a similar claim and police investigators sprung into action to trace the culprits.

However, he said on quizzing the man, he told investigators that he was drunk at the time and that his claims were untrue.

"With the current tight security imposed by police and Esscom (Eastern Sabah Security Command ), there is a slim chance of a recurrence of an incursion. Nevertheless, we always investigate all information received on the breach of security," he said.

Esscom commander DCP Datuk Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid said although Esscom encourages cooperation and welcomes information on security matters, he urged the public especially residents living within the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) to avoid making speculations.

"We are constantly monitoring and carrying out patrols on land and sea at eastern Sabah to ensure its security is not compromised," he said.

In February 2013, more than 200 armed men dressed in camouflage attire and identified themselves as the army of the defunct Sulu Sultanate laid siege on Kampung Tanduo, a village off Felda Sahabat 2 oil palm estate here, laying claim for Sabah.