KOTA KINABALU: Malaysian security forces were very cautious after the shootout with the Sulu intruders in March 1 last year, the High Court heard.
VAT 69 commando Supt Mancha Laga said that this was one of the reasons why the security forces did not immediately search the houses within Kampung Tanduo, where they were involved in a one-hour gunbattle with the armed intruders.
He told judge Justice Stephen Chung that they had waited for several days before searching the houses in the area.
He believed that the gunmen were well-prepared and had stationed snipers around the area, which resulted in the death of one of his men Kopl Sabaruddin Daud (he had since been posthumously promoted to sergeant) and the injury of several other security members.
“We did not search the skirmish ground or the houses near the location so soon, as I feared that we would become an easy target for the gunmen if we did so,” he said.
Supt Mancha said he had headed the second of five teams assigned to cover the five locations around Kampung Tanduo in February and March last year.
“When the armed intruders started firing at us after giving a warning, we had to take cover and retaliate,” he said, adding that the shootout had lasted for about an hour before the intruders started retreating.
“However, they (armed intruders) continued firing while they retreated to find cover,” he added.
He said he and his teams were on alert after the shooting ended as they believed that armed men might still be lingering around waiting to attack.
Later in the trial, he also identified a bag which was found at the skirmish location on March 1.
Supt Mancha was the third witness to testify in the trial of 30 people involved in the intrusion into Lahad Datu in Feb 12, 2013, at a hall designated as an open courtroom in the State Prison Complex at Kepayan here.
All the accused are represented by Kuala Lumpur-based lawyer Datuk N. Sivanathan, Kamaruddin Mohmad Chinki, Rowiena Rashid and Abdul Gani Zulika.
Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail led the prosecution team with four others.