by Azril Annuar
PETALING JAYA (March 11): Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib has firmly denied all allegations of police brutality against women, children and civilians during the Op Daulat mopping-up operations.
Speaking at a live telecast press conference, Hamza vehemently denied the allegations, saying that the innocents were not harmed even though they were found to be in the well-established “red zone” which has been cordoned off by the security forces.
“We have relocated many of the villagers found in the danger zone. The media here themselves have seen us protecting them, feeding the villagers. I firmly deny any acts of police brutality against the innocent civilians.
“Our troops have every right to open fire on any women and children who were found in close next to the gunmen. We have every right to treat them as hostiles because they are in a hostile zone. We did not harm them. The teenager who was shot, was found hiding in the bushes,” said Hamza.
The Sabah police chief was responding to allegations by some of the Philippine media who reported that police brutality following Op Daulat caused hundreds of Philippine citizens to flee Sabah back to the Philippines.
Op Daulat was initiated after Philippine-Suluk terrorists and militants deceived, ambushed and murdered Malaysian servicemen and then proceeded to mutilate and desecrate their remains.
Thus far the total casualties for the Suluk terrorists have amounted up to 54 and casualties for the Malaysian security forces numbered eight with five injured.
The authorities have also brought out 22 bodies from the combat zone and sent them to the Tawau Hospital and the Lahad Datu Hospital.
When asked regarding the manhunt status for the leader of the 200-odd band of Suluk terrorists, Azimuddie Kiram, Hamza refused to comment saying that the information they have is still highly confidential.
Earlier, in the "Malaysia Hari Ini" (MHI) programme aired live on TV3, Hamza also denied the claim by residents of Kampung Tanduo that the intruders from southern Philippine had entered the village through a tunnel built since November last year.
"So far, we have not received any information about the existence of the tunnel.
"In fact, when the military carried out air raids we did not find any underground tunnel, what we saw were merely cars that were destroyed," he told the programme when contacted.
According to a local daily report which quoted a resident of Kampung Tanduo, the Sulu intruders had carried out detailed planning when entering the village including constructing the tunnel.
Asked if the Sulu intruders were only hiding around Kampung Tanduo and Kampung Tanjung Batu, Hamzah said: "(We) can't assume that they (intruders) are only in the two villages".