Ambush claims baseless

KOTA KINABALU - Malaysia dismissed as baseless claims in Manila that eight of its soldiers were killed in an ambush by Sulu gunmen in Lahad Datu.

Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) director-general Datuk Mohammad Mentek said the claims by the self-proclaimed Sulu Sultan's group were without any basis.

"They have been making all sorts of claims to create disharmony and fear among the people.

"I urge the people not to believe such unfounded claims by these (Sulu) individuals who are using it as propaganda," he said when contacted yesterday on reports in several Philippines newspapers that Sulu gunmen killed eight Malaysian soldiers.

The news reports, quoting self-proclaimed Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III's spokesman Abraham Idjirani, said that the Sultan's soldiers, led by Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram (more known as Azzimuddie here), had informed him that eight members of the Malaysian security forces were killed.

The alleged killings were the result of a supposed ambush by some 50 members of the Sultan's Royal Security Force group, led by Utuh Ubie, in a Felda area in Lahad Datu on Friday.

Idjirani claimed that he was informed by Azzimuddie about the killings by telephone.

"There is no basis to such a claim, there were no incidents at all," Mohammad said, adding that security had been on high alert following rumours that Sulu gunmen were planning a second wave of attacks during Hari Raya.

"It has been a very peaceful Hari Raya, so there is no reason for people to worry or panic," he said.

Mohammad added that anyone with information or in need of clarification about so-called incidents could contact the operations room at 089-863-181 in Lahad Datu.

"It is operational 24/7 and they can call anytime," he added.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib also denied the reports while confirming that there had been no clashes between security forces and Sulu terrorists.