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Guerrilla warfare – militants hitting back?

 | March 8, 2013

A Moro National Liberation Front source is of the view that the war in Sabah will be 'very costly' to the Malaysian security forces.

LAHAD DATU: As images of mutilated bodies flood the blogs and rumours of more attacks spew via SMSes and e-mails,  Lahad Datu is appearing more and more like a guerrilla front.

Malaysia’s rejection yesterday of a unilateral ceasefire called by self-styled Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and its determination to wipe out the “remnants” of the militants of the week-long brutal armed attack simply means that Sabah is in trouble, says a Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) source.

Said the source who declined to be named: “The Malaysians have opened an insurgency problem in Sabah by firing the first shot. Sabah is going to be a real headache for the Malaysians.”

The source was alluding to last Friday’s shoot-out at Kampung Tandauo in Lahad Datu where over 200 armed soldiers from the Royal Sulu Army have been holed up since Feb 9.

What triggered the shoot-out is subjective. The Malaysian side claimed the militants broke the security cordon, but the Sulu sultanate denied this saying they were attacked.

A news blackout on the ongoings in Lahad Datu and a lack of informed regular updates from the Malaysian authorities have given wind to widespread rumours, the latest being that a group of Moro militants bombed a bridge in Sandakan and a truck heading towards Lahad Datu was attacked.

FMT has been unable to confirm these information. Neither is there any comment from the Malaysian side.

Thus far, the Malaysian security forces have declared 52 militants killed, including a general, and eight Malaysian officers have died.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak told reporters here that a security zone covering Kudat, Kunak, Sandakan and Lahad Datu has been set up and that there was no scaling back unless the militants surrender unconditionally and hand over their weapons.

Unconditional surrender is not a Tausug culture

Meanwhile, the Philstar.com quoted official MNLF spokesman Emmanuel Fontanilla as saying that the sultanate’s forces would fight till the death.

“Surrender? It’s unacceptable. They will fight to the death. For the Tausug fighters it’s victory or graveyard,” he said.

He said the war would be “very costly” to the Malaysian army which had not fought a real battle like the sultanate’s forces.

He said many of them had fought the Philippine government as members of the MNLF.

“They’re used to dealing with jet fighters as well as ground and naval bombardments.

“They know the terrain in Sabah, having trained there for decades,” he said.

Militants refusing to surrender

Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar in a press conference here this morning said the Sulu militants were not showing signs of surrendering.

He also denied reports that 700 Sulu gunmen had entered Sabah.

“I received information that there are SMS and social media postings which falsely claim that these gunmen have entered Kota Kinabalu and Tawau to create chaos,” he said.

“It is not true. Do not believe in reports which are not confirmed by the police and military. Please inform the police if you see any information via social media or text messages,” he added.


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