'Ops Daulat' Continues Until Red Zone Is Rid Of Terrorists
KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 (Bernama) -- The operation, 'Ops Daulat', to hunt the remants of the armed terrorists who intruded into Lahad Datu on Feb 12, will continue until all areas in the district are rid of the intruders from southern Philippines.
Confident the operation could be completed in the near future, the security forces believe there are only 50 terrorists in hiding in the area.
The estimate was arrived at, based on the number who were shot dead, captured and escaped to southern Philippines.
"We will finish it (operation) as soon as possible," said Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib who stressed that the security forces did not have a deadline for the operation.
After 12 days of 'Ops Daulat', Kampung Tanduo, which prior to this was a stronghold of the terrorists, is now clean, and the security forces believed the cleansing of Kampung Tanjung Batu could be completed tomorrow.
Hamza said, the affected villagers would be allowed to return after the security forces had cleared the area of bobby traps and other threats, and hold discussions with community leaders.
"We will station members of the security forces to make sure no terrorist is able to return to the villages in question," he said.
In the 72 hours until 5pm today, there was no shootout between the security forces and terrorists.
The security forces launched an offensive against the terrorists from Sulu on March 5, after a series of failed negotiations with the group which intruded into the beaches of Lahad Datu since Feb 12.
During the period, 61 terrorists were shot dead, with 27 of their bodies removed from the red zone, while 104 were detained on suspicion of having links with the terrorists. An additional 232 were detained for being in forbidden areas.
Nine members of the security forces, comprising eight policemen and a soldier, were killed in firefights with the terrorists. Another soldier was killed in a road mishap involving an army truck in a convoy for 'Ops Daulat'.