KOTA KINABALU: A team of police VAT69 commandos had no choice but to stay in their positions as gunfights broke out elsewhere between Sulu gunmen and other commando teams in Tanduo on March 1.
Troop leader Insp Mazrul Mansor said that they could back up their colleagues in other sectors, but if they moved, they would have become easy targets.
“Our area was an open, vast and uneven terrain.
“If we proceeded to the area where we heard the gunshots were coming from, it would expose the whole team to danger and make us easy targets,” he said when testifying at the trial of 30 people involved in various offences linked to the Sulu intrusion in Lahad Datu on Feb 12 last year.
The proceedings were conducted in a hall declared as a High Court at the state prison in Kepayan yesterday.
Earlier, Insp Mazrul said that he and his team had gone to the area when requested by his superior Deputy Supt Hakemal Hawari to provide back up to the latter after DSP Hakemal and three others had separated from their team during a close recce operation.
Asked by Deputy Public Prosecutor Abdul Wahab Mohamed how long was his team as well as Hakemal’s team in the area at that point of time, he said they were there in a defence position for two days.
Insp Mazrul said DSP Hakemal had instructed him to merge with his team and to regroup.
It was only at about 4pm the next day (March 2) that DSP Hakemal instructed Insp Mazrul and his team to pull back and go to the General Operations Force rumah kongsi at Felda Sahabat 17.
A mopping up (clear the skirmish ground of remnant gunmen) and cutting off (prevent anyone from entering or leaving the skirmish ground) operation was subsequently carried out starting March 5.
Insp Mazrul said the police VAT69 commandos were instructed to work with the army for the operations, whereby on March 6, one of his men shot dead an armed intruder clad in fatigues.
Insp Mazrul said they had shot the man after they saw him carrying a firearm and was approaching his team.
The gunman was accompanied by two others. He said he was unsure whether the other two were armed or not.
High Court judge Justice Stephen Chun, who is hearing the case, set March 3 for the continuation of the trial.