ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 21 August) — Plans of the Abu Sayyaf to kidnap Malaysian resort owners in Sandakan in Sabah were foiled as two suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were shot dead Friday morning.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hazani Ghazali in an online briefing for the BIMP (Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Philippines) media on Friday said initial investigation showed that the ASG members planned to abduct the owners of two estates in Sandakan and Sukau.
The two who were killed were believed to be among seven ASG members nabbed in a special operation dawn of August 18 where 11 Filipinos were arrested as suspected undocumented migrants.
In its investigation, the Sabah police found that seven of the 11 arrested Filipinos were allegedly members of the ASG. There were reportedly other ASG members who escaped the first round of arrests, prompting a second manhunt on August 19, particularly at the Bornhill Palm Oil Estate at Pulau Timbang, in the northern part of Timbang Island.
The Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) Intelligence Division headed by Senior Assistant Commissioner Zaki Mohammad Zain, coordinated with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Lt. Col. Hernane Songano, commanding officer of the 4th Marine Brigade in Sulu, on instructions of Joint Task Force Sulu chief Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, supported the ESSCOM raiding team through intelligence sharing.
Hazani said that when the raiding team arrived, the suspects fired at the Sabah security forces who fired back, killing two persons armed with caliber .45 pistol, a Colt and a machete.
“Gunshots were fired in response and that is why our men had to retaliate,” Hazani said.
Malaysian security forces earlier heard noise in the abandoned oil palm resort. They called out for them to surrender.
The two slain victims were identified through their identification cards and other supporting documents as Amman Adam alias Man and Jasmine, and Jimdan Hairudin. Their bodies and recovered items were brought to Sandakan District Police Headquarters for disposition.
Songano, in a telephone interview, said intelligence sharing began in May, as Sabah police started their operations in a mangrove area near Taman Sri Arjuna in Beaufort district, where undocumented Filipinos who were unfamiliar faces in the island, most of them armed, were arrested. Eight of these arrested Filipinos last May were suspected ASG members.
The Sabah police are still pursuing undocumented migrants, including members of the ASG. (FrencieCarreon / MindaNews)