KUALA LUMPUR: Security forces thwarted an attempt by foreigners to intrude into Sabah two weeks ago, said Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.
“There was an attempt by outsiders to enter Sabah but we manage to quell the intrusion through cooperation with other forces, including the Armed Forces," he said.
He said it was due to such incidents that the police were looking to boost security in Sabah's east coast by intensifying Ops Cantas Khas.
He said the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) have launched Ops Gasak to neutralise potential informers working at island resorts around the famed diving haven of Sipadan.
“The kidnapping of a Taiwanese tourist at Pom Pom Island Resort is also fresh in our minds...we will do all we can to ensure no quarters are able to attack or inflitrate the area,” Khalid said in his first press conference in the new year.
Esscom was formed in the wake of the Lahad Datu intrusion and enforcement agency, Eastern Sabah Safety Zone (Esszone), covers 10 districts - Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beluran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau - along a stretch of 1,400km in Sabah’s east coast.
There were reports of increased military movement in Lahad Datu over a 48-hour period last month.
Residents claimed they saw military helicopters hovering in the sky and more than the usual armoured vehicles and ground personnel in the area.
Esscom officials have, however, said that they were part of ongoing operations "to sweep all black areas."
It is learnt that an alert was issued after personnel at a police outpost in Kg Sibuti in the Dent Haven area of Tungku fired a flare on hearing the sound of a pump boat approaching the main coastline in wee hours of the morning.
Esscom was informed and the helicopters and soldiers moved into the area to check.
The incident comes after the attack in February last year by followers of the self-proclaimed Sulu ruler Sultan Jamalul Kiram III in Kampung Tandao, Lahad Datu.
The attack claimed the lives of 10 members of the security forces, including eight policemen.
Khalid said seven police stations in Esszone would be equipped with 150 policemen each while another General Operations Force (GOF) brigade would be deployed this year.
"Currently, we are mobilising GOF personnel from other states to assist in the security there.
“However, the addition of another brigade will improve our security operations,” he said.
He also explained that marine police operations would also be intensified to cover Sabah waters.
“We want to ensure that no individuals or groups can threaten our sovereignty. We should be ready for any possibilities thus any weakness will be improved upon immediately,” he said.