KOTA BARU - Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the latest attack in Mabul in which a police corporal was killed was carried out by Sulu gunmen and revenge was the likely motive.
"They could have acted so be because our military commandos and police have succeeded in penetrating their stronghold to save a kidnapped Chinese national recently. But we will not yield to such attacks and will fight back to ensure the security of the region," he said.
Dr Ahmad Zahid, who broke fast with members of the Kelantan police contingent here, said police would officially take over the task of securing the region from Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) on July 15.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, who is in Lebanon, tweeted that the armed forces would work closely with the police to maintain security in the east coast of Sabah.
He agreed with a follower @damien_thanam that it was time to go all out to wipe out those invading the country, killing and kidnapping the innocent.
"Agreed. Mindef and the armed forces will do our part," he responded.
In Kota Kinabalu, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said there must also be full cooperation and coordination among the police, marine coast guards and armed forces, he said when extending his condolences to the family of Kpl Abdul Rajah Jamuan.
He said the state government would also give all necessary help to the family of abducted police constable Zakiah Aleip.
Although top police and military brass are looking at it as a revenge attack following the recent rescue of Chinese national Yang Zau Lin, some security officials believe that the strike could also be associated with disgruntled groups hit by the crackdown on water villages in the east coast.
They are also trying to determine the group responsible for the audacious commando-style stealth attack and whether they were from the Abu Sayyaf group, a breakaway Moro faction linked to MMLF or the so-called Sulu Sultanate's royal army.
Unlike previous raids carried out by kidnap-for-ransom bandits based in neighbouring Tawi Tawi islands, the latest group came with intent to kill.
They arrived with guns blazing into the Mabul Water Bungalows Resort restaurant and office.
According to some security officials, it was quite clear that they intended to hit the security outposts although they could have also taken tourists as hostages if they had happened to see any.
Some officials felt that if it was revenge, the group would have attacked bases closer to the sea borders of Sabah and Tawi Tawi instead of coming close to shore for a risky operation at a time when security forces were on alert after a kidnap attempt at a fish farm near Kg Bongau Bongau.