KUALA LUMPUR, July 13 ― A policeman is believed to been killed and another taken hostage by gunmen after an ambush on Mabul Island, off Semporna in Sabah late yesterday.
According to news reports a shootout took place at 11pm when a group of men in military uniform arrived at the diving paradise.
The New Straits Times reported that the two personnel were in a team of eight, including staffers from the marine police unit, who responded to alerts of gunshots being fired near the Billabong Scuba resort on the island.
On arriving at the location, the cops were fired on by the group near the Water Bungalows resort. Corporal Abd Rajah Jamuan was reportedly killed in the armed skirmish while Constable Zakia Aleip is missing.
The renowned south-eastern coast of Sabah has been a target of armed assailants believed to be part of a separatist movement neighbouring Philippines.
The latest incident comes on the heel of a kidnapping of a fish breeder and an immigrant worker by armed raiders from Kunak near Lahad Datu, Sabah’s easternmost area, last month.
In April, a Chinese tourist and a Filipino resort worker after they were taken from a holiday spot in Sipadan.
Last week, Putrajaya said that it would beef up state’s porous maritime border following a slew of kidnappings in Sabah.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced a rejig of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) by appointing Deputy Commissioner of Police Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun to head Security and Defence, which deals with intelligence gathering, security and defence management and operations.
Esscom was created in March last year to prevent armed incursions following the month-long assault on Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu by militants from the South Philippines with a reported death toll of 56 intruders, nine Malaysian security personnel and six civilians. It covers 1,400 km of the east coast of Sabah from Kudat to Tawau.
Esscom is meant to boost maritime security in the eastern part of Sabah following the invasion crisis and prevent terrorist activities in the state’s waters.