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Remain calm, Lahad Datu folk told


LAHAD DATU: Despite the abduction of two cousins from an oil palm plantation last Wednesday, life goes on for locals here. The sight of oil palm-laden lorries and boats teeming with freshly caught fish is typical.

Police investigation into the incident so far points to a well- planned scheme as the gunmen knew the area well.

The abduction has put the authorities on full alert.

However, district officer Zulkifli Nasir yesterday said it should not put a damper on the daily activities of the people in the district.

"The safety of the district is under control.

"Moreover, the abduction took place quite a distance away from the town.

"Life goes on as usual even in small towns like Tambisan and Tungku."

The district here is one of the busiest agricultural hubs in Sabah. It is also where the government has set up the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC).

Its coastal town is popular for its seafood.

"As far as the town's safety is concerned, there is no need to panic.

"I believe the authorities are doing their best in solving the case."

Last Wednesday, a 33-year-old plantation manager and his 25-year-old assistant, who is also his cousin, were abducted by gunmen from an oil palm plantation in the Sahabat 15 area, about 110km from here.

The gunmen, clad in army fatigues, had earlier led the duo along with two workers to a mangrove area, near Manakayan, before forcing the cousins into a boat and speeding off to the Celebes Sea. The two others were released.

Assistant District Development Officer Hisham Abdul Karim said many rumours were circulating and advised the public to stay calm.

"I hope the authorities will beef up the security level, especially in plantation areas."

No ransom or demand has been received and police are still waiting for contact from the gunmen.

Last Friday, state Criminal Investigation Department chief Senior Assistant Commissioner Omar Mammah said police had not ruled out that the suspects knew the victims' background as they were familiar with the area.

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