By SHAUN HO
LAHAD DATU 16/03/2013: Police believe that Azzimudie Kiram, leader of the Sulu gunmen, has fled to the Philippines but do not discount the possibility that he may be still lurking in Sabah, according to Sabah police commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib during a Saturday evening press conference.
“We will still continue operations and we will catch him if he is still here,” he told reporters.
He appeared to have backed away from his earlier certainty that Azzimudie had fled this week, possibly to one of islands off Tawi-Tawi.
The Kiram family has consistently held that their fighter was still in Sabah.
In the Saturday morning press conference, he said Malaysia would seek to extradite him from the Philippines to face charges here.
"We have begun investigations and will compile evidence to extradite him to mainland Malaysia to face charges," he had said.
The Philippine navy detained 35 gunmen on Wednesday in Tawi-Tawi waters but stated that Azzimudie was not among them.
"But even so, it does not matter to me. We have begun investigations under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act and we will compile evidence to extradite him to Malaysia to face charges.
"We will deal with him according to our laws. I have never trusted what Jamalul Kiram has said from day one," said Comm Hamza.
He added that the authorities estimated less than 50 of the Sulu gunmen remained in the area.
Army Division 1 Commander Maj-Gen Zaki Mokhtar said mopping up efforts were now focused in the Tanjung Batu area.
In the evening press conference, Comm Hamza said that security forces had cleaned up and secured Kg Tanduo and Sg Nyamuk.
He said there were no signs that the enemy was occupying the area.
"We have stationed a team there to make sure they do not enter the area again," he said.