KOTA KINABALU: Snipers were placed at strategic positions around Tanduo as part of a backup to ground police VAT 69 commandos moving into areas held by Sulu gunmen last year.
The snipers were tasked to provide backup to other police VAT 69 commandos in the event a fighting broke out with the Sulu gunmen occupying Tanduo, a VAT 69 shooter Kpl Shahril Afizal told the High Court here on Friday.
He said one of his main task after being sent to Lahad Datu on Feb 15, 2013, was to provide backup to his colleagues should a skirmish occur at any time following the Feb 12 Sulu intrusion into Tanduo in Lahad Datu district.
"On March 1, I was assigned to keep an eye on the activities going on at a ‘rumah kongsi’ where the Sulu gunmen were believed to have occupied,” he said at the trial of 30 people for their involvement in the Lahad Datu and Semporna intrusions last year.
"I was to provide backup to three areas (sector B, C, and D) from a distance.
"I was keeping watch, although I could not see actual movements or incidents happening in the three sectors,” he said.
However, he said he was to shoot at any intruder who passed through the area he was being stationed as it was aimed at preventing any intruders from reaching the three sectors if a skirmish occurred there.
Shahril, who is the 17th witness to testify before High Court judge 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 were seen bathing and taking water from a water well and drain near the house.
He said when fighting broke out at 10am on March 1, the intruders ran helter-skelter, shooting towards the area where the sounds of gunshots were heard before the intruders took cover.
On Thursday, another VAT 69 commando Kpl Badin Anak Senow who was with Shahril told the court that the gunmen fled after they began shooting at them in a bid to stop the intruders from joining their members involved in firefights with the closing in ground commandos.