KUNAK (29 Sept) : A Filipino with links to southern Philippines based kidnap-for-ransom group was shot dead in a shootout at sea near Pulau Burung here.
The 50-year-old suspect known only as “Tarab” was killed in the shootout with a police team led by Kunak district police chief Supt Mohd Nasaruddin Nasir during an Ops Sea Hunter to tackle robberies at sea at around 2.30am Friday.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Noor Rashid Ibrahim told reporters that the suspect was an informer for the kidnap groups and was also involved in sea robberies involving fishermen in the area.
He said that the police team led by Supt Nasaruddin was in an unmarked boat when they confronted the suspect in a pump boat at Pulau Burung, a tidal island.
(Tidal island is a piece of land that is exposed at low tide and submerged at high tide.)
“As the police team, tried to approach the suspect, he started to open fire at the police team and fled.
“Our men fired back. After the shootout, when the police team reached the boat, they found him dead,” he said. He said they also found a .38 pistol with four bullets including one spent shell. A Samurai sword was also discovered.
Noor Rashid said the suspect was wanted by police for sea robberies against local fishermen as well as Sea Gypsies or Bajau Laut in the area.
“We believe that several cases of robberies have been solved and also we have cut a link for the kidnap groups as the suspect had been providing information and also acting as a lookout for the group,” he added.
He said the Ops Sea Hunter was carried out by Kunak police since early this year and they have been gathering intelligence as well as other information in the sea areas of the district that borders close to southern Philippines Tawi Tawi chain of islands. He said some cases of sea robberies were not reported to police especially by the Sea Bajaus.