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Lahad Datu situation to be 'solved in best way'

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STAND-OFF: We have situation under our control, says IGP

KUALA LUMPUR: POLICE yesterday hit out at allegations that the force was soft in handling the standoff situation in Lahad Datu which entered its ninth day today.

Police are 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 90km from Lahad Datu since Feb 12.

"You can make your own assumptions," Inspector-General of Police 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 at KL Sentral after announcing statistics on the recently concluded Ops Selamat traffic operation.

"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's sentiments, who on Tuesday visited the 17th Battalion of the General Operations Force 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 may jeopardise the situation.

He had also warned that 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, had demanded that 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.

General Operations Force members observing the group holed up 500m away near Lahad Datu yesterday. Pic by Zunnur al Shafiq


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