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Two Sulu army members killed
Published on: Friday, October 31, 2014
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Sherell Ann Jeffrey PENAMPANG: Two men believed to be Sulu rebel army members were killed while about to stage a robbery and the incident brought the normally busy streets of Penampang Baru to a standstill with policemen wearing bacalavas swarming all over the area, Thursday.

It was the second major crime incident to happen there within three days.

Police remained tight-lipped over the latest incident between 3pm and 4pm amid a lockdown of the area, which only spawned a host of theories and much speculation on social media.

It was believed that the suspects were trying to recruit members in the vicinity, known for strong illegal immigrant presence.

People were jittery as the shooting came after masked robbers on Monday made off with RM497,000 from two employees of the Servay Hypermarket located just two blocks from the scene.

It was earlier reported that the amount was about RM200,000.

State Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman, however, could not be drawn into making any comment except to say that he would explain everything during a media conference today (Friday).

In a posting via WhatsApp he indicated it was an exercise as well as an operation to track criminals.

A one-minute video footage circulated on the Net showed a police team, masked and in civilian clothes, arriving at the scene. According to a passerby who did not want to be identified, his friend happened to be driving behind a D-Max four-wheel-drive when the incident unfolded.

He said the D-Max stopped by the side of the shops and a man from another vehicle behind him suddenly walked up to the D-Max driver's seat and fired several shots following a commotion.

A third person in the D-Max, believed to be a woman, was said to have been taken away by police. Shortly after, a group of armed masked men dressed in civilian clothing, believed to be police personnel, were seen swarming around a tinted white D-Max which had several gunshot marks on the window on the driver's side.

Uniformed policemen arrived just as they left the scene on motorcycles and unmarked vehicles and District Police Chief DSP Ratan Kumar Singh was seen ordering his men to cordon off the area with ticker-tape.

Four blocks of shops were also ordered shut and civilians as well as members of the media were stopped from taking photos of the scene and asked to delete photos already taken.

The whole area was cleared of people immediately after and until evening the township, especially the hypermarket, which is normally crowded with shoppers was almost deserted as speculations mounted over the shooting. Daily Express received many calls wanting to know what was going on.

Penampang MP Darrel Leiking who is attending Parliament said he came to know of the incident via messages and the social media.

"I am trying to get hold of the Penampang Police Chief, but have not been able to reach him for any confirmation on the incident," he said.

"Based on information via social media and messages I have received so far, there are two conflicting pieces of information, some claiming that it was just a police exercise while the other said it was a real shooting," he said.

"Whatever it is, we trust that the police will do their level best to ensure security and I hope police can release some information to assure all is safe," he said.

In February last year Sulu rebels from Southern Philippines intruded into Lahad Datu and Segama which resulted in 10 security forces personnel being killed.





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