KOTA KINABALU - Snipers were placed at strategic positions around Tanduo to back up police VAT 69 commandos stationed in areas held temporarily by Sulu gunmen last year.
VAT 69 shooter Kpl Shahril Afizal told the High Court here that the snipers were tasked with supporting commandos in the event fighting broke out with the Sulu gunmen.
He said one of his main tasks was to provide cover for his colleagues if a skirmish occurred at any time after the Feb 12 intrusion.
"On March 1, I was assigned to keep an eye on the activities at a rumah kongsi where the Sulu gunmen were believed to have occupied," he said yesterday during the trial of 30 people involved in the Lahad Datu and Semporna intrusion last year.
"I was to provide back-up to three areas (sector B, C and D) from a distance. I kept watch, although I could not see actual movements or incidents happening in the sectors," he said.
He said he was expected to shoot at the intruders who passed through the area to prevent any of them from reaching the three sectors if a clash occurred there.
Kpl Shahril, the 17th witness to testify before Justice Stephen Chung, said before the first gunshot was heard from an area to his left (sector B, C or D), a group of about 20 intruders was seen bathing and taking water from a well and drain near the house.
He said when fighting broke out at 10am on March 1, the intruders ran helter-skelter, firing shots at the direction where the sound of the gunshots was coming from before taking cover.
On Thursday, VAT 69 commando Kpl Badin Anak Senow, who was with Kpl Shahril, told the court that the gunmen fled after they shot at them to stop them from joining their colleagues.