KOTA KINABALU,( April 16) — The High Court here today heard that a security forces team conducting a cut-off operation to prevent intruders from fleeing Kampung Tanjung Labian, Lahad Datu on March 6, last year retaliated to shots fired by a couple of intruders.
Major Mohd Afandi Yusuf, attached to the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) based in the Lok Kawi Camp near here said his team were fired upon after one of his team members shouted “musuh” (enemy), on seeing the intruders approaching them at a distance of about 50 metres.
“My team was approached by three or four intruders in civilian clothes, with one of them brandishing a machete with his right hand. The others, I could not clearly see (what they were carrying).
“At a distance of 30 metres, one of my team members shouted ‘musuh’ and gunshots came in our direction. That was when we saw one of the intruders carrying a long barrel firearm and shooting at us,” he said.
The prosecution’s 23rd witness, who was also the first army personnel to testify in the trial, said during the shootout, which lasted 15-20 minutes, the intruder holding the machete fell to the ground while the others escaped.
Asked by deputy public prosecutor Datuk Abdul Wahab Mohamed on what action was taken subsequently, Mohd Afandi said he informed his commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Adi Riduan Abdullah, via radio communication, of the shootout and requested for reinforcement, by way of dispatching Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC).
“Not long after that, two APCs led by Lieutenant Colonel Adi Riduan arrived and were shooting in the direction where the intruders had come from,” he said.
After the APCs stopped shooting, Mohd Afandi said he and Adi Riduan went to inspect an area about 100 metres away and found the body of an intruder who was decapitated.
He also said a machete and a black bag containing clothes and food were found next to the headless body.
During cross-examination, Mohd Afandi said he and his team were on an elevated ground of about 10 metres, upon arriving at their operation area on March 6 last year.
“Do you agree with me that from a tactical perspective, you were on higher ground, (and thus) you had an advantage over the enemy who were on lower ground,?” asked counsel Datuk N. Sivananthan, to which Mohd Afandi agreed.
However, he disagreed with counsel that the only reason the intruders knew of the location of his team, which comprised the MAF and VAT69 Commandos, was because one of his team members had shouted “musuh”.
“He (team member) shouted ‘musuh’ so that our team could be on guard for any eventuality,” he explained.
Thirty people, comprising 27 Filipinos and three local residents, are being tried in the case, in which some are facing multiple charges of being members of a terrorist group or waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong; recruiting members for a terrorist group; or, willfully harbouring individuals they knew to be members of a terrorist group.
They allegedly committed the offences between Feb 12 and April 10 last year.
The hearing before Justice Stephen Chung at the Sabah Prisons Department continues tomorrow.– BERNAMA