CENDERAWASIH (Lahad Datu): Terror struck farmer Ben Hamid's heart when his brother came to his house and shouted that the Abu Sayyaf militants had landed.
“He came knocking at 2am on Feb 9 and claimed it was the Abu Sayyaf.
“He said the group had landed on the seaside village of Tanduo. I replied that we are finished'.”
“I fled with my wife and my 12 children,” the 47-year-old said, referring to the notorious armed group which had taken numerous hostages from Sabah.
Ben said that the first group of 18 Filipino gunmen landed on the shores of Kampung Tanduo and appeared to be friendly.
“They said one of their boat engines broke down and they had to land for repairs.
“One of them even approached a stall and wanted to buy some foodstuff using Filipino pesos,” he said, adding that the group also spoke about their ancestral land.
However, Ben said the group stayed on and more armed men started landing over the next few days.
He added that about 80 people from 15 families decided to flee the village before the Malaysian security forces surrounded it on Tuesday.