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Whereabouts of Sulu leader Azzimudie unclear: M'sian police
Publication Date : 15-03-2013
Has the Sulu terrorist group's armed leader Rajah Muda Azzimudie Kiram and 34 of his followers escaped to Tawi Tawi or is he still trapped within the Ops Daulat operations area in Tg Labian?
The Philippines naval authorities have confirmed that 35 gunmen, including one wounded and one woman, have been taken into custody after they entered Philippines waters in two boats on Wednesday.
Tawi-Tawi Governor Sadikul Sahari said yesterday that the 35 were from the area of fighting but could not confirm if Azzimudie was among them.
“I have not been informed of this by the navy,” he told The Star via telephone from Bongao, about less then half-an-hour speed boat ride from the ongoing police and military offensive to flush out remnants of the terrorist group at Kg Tanjung Batu, Kg Tanjung Labian and Kg Sungai Bilis.
He said the Philippines' Department of Justice was handling the case of the returnees.
At the evening media briefing at Felda Residence Sahabat resort, Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar said they were working with the Philippines government to verify the report.
Asked if he believed that Azzimudie was still within the area of operations, Ismail said: “We are verifying all information we get.”
Abraham Irdjani, a spokesman for the family of the self-proclaimed Sulu Sultan, insisted that Azzimudie was alive in Sabah together with his general Haji Musa Abdulla, who the police here confirmed was dead.
“Azzimudie is still in the area of operations. Haji Musa is with him,” Irdjani told The Star when asked for the whereabouts of the leader.
On the ground yesterday, more mortar attacks were launched within the Ops Daulat area as the security forces continued their mopping-up operations within a 7km radius.
Ismail said that security forces believed that there were still remnants of the gunmen in the area.
He also said the security forces were trying to establish the identities of the corpses recovered.
“We are taking thumb prints and DNAs. It takes time to identify the bodies. Many do not have documents and some of the documents were foreign identity papers,” he said.
He said police detained a man in his 30s at a roadblock at about 10:45am in Tanjung Labian as he was found carrying two samurai swords and three machetes packed in a parcel.
Armed Forces Chief General Zulkifeli Mohd Zin told the media briefing that yesterday's mortar fire was aimed at an area in Sungai Nyamuk to ensure that none of the gunmen escaped.
“We believe they have broken into smaller groups and are able to move faster as they know the area very well,” he said.