KOTA KINABALU, Dec 12 — Sabah police are investigating links between two armed men shot dead in Kunak today and a kidnap-for-ransom group involved in a recent shootout.
Sabah police commissioner Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun said that the two men shot at a remote hut in Ulu Tingkayu oil palm plantation in Kunak did not have identification on them, so they could not identify them or their nationalities, but they were believed to have been involved in armed robberies here.
“We cannot be sure who they are or where they’re from, but based on the evidence at the scene — the weapons and some drugs — they were drug pushers and smugglers who were also involved in armed robberies.
“We are not discounting the possibility of any links or that they were part of a bigger group,” he said.
Acting on a public tip-off, a team of policemen led by the district police chief superintendent Mohd Nasaruddin Nasir went to the hut located some two hours from Kunak town at 1.30am and noticed movement within.
Police said they approached the hut while identifying themselves but were greeted by gunshots. After a second warning, a shootout occurred, lasting some two to three minutes.
“When the shooting stopped, the team went inside the hut to investigate the scene and found the bodies of two men, in their 30s,” Abdul Rashid said.
Police found two homemade rifles, one Colt .45 pistol, a .38 revolver, air guns, machetes, as well as ‘live’ bullets and bullet shells. Police also seized three plastic bags of syabu, a weighing machine, handphone and a motorcycle.
“We also found bullets for an M16 which, upon closer inspection, were not those which belong to our security forces,” he said.
The case is being investigated under Section 307 of the Penal Code for attempted murder.
Police are also looking for evidence that there are other people involved in their operations.
Last Thursday, three of seven suspects, believed to be kidnappers from southern Philippines, were shot dead by the police general operations force, while two others were arrested. The other two escaped after a deadly shootout in the sea off Semporna.
The group, believed to be among the leaders of the Abu Sayyaf bandits from southern Philippines, were on a kidnap and robbery spree, hitting three boats before approaching the fourth, which was an unmarked boat occupied by security forces.
Police are still on the hunt for two more suspects and a skipper that was taken.