KOTA KINABALU: Filipino security forces have captured the leader behind the infamous 1996 attack on Semporna town and the 2004 kidnapping of a China national from a resort.
Murphy Basaluddin Ladja @Haji Gulam, who was believed to have kept a low profile after suffering a stroke, was arrested by Filipino security forces at a village in Jolo early on Tuesday.
Regional intelligence sources said Murphy had led some 30 gunmen into Sabah’s east coast Semporna and taken control of the town for several hours before fleeing on April 23, 1996.
During the incident, the gunmen launched a grenade attack on the Semporna police headquarters, as well as the marine police and General Operations Force base at the old Semporna police station.
They held the town for at least three hours, firing randomly before a police counter attack had them fleeing. One of the gunmen was killed during the retreat.
The attack was widely seen as revenge against the local police.
The sources said Murphy had also led the kidnapping of China national Gao Huayun, a university student, and Filipino resort worker March Darawan on April 2, 2014, from the Singamata Reef Resort.
They were released on May 30 the same year after ransom payments were allegedly made.