Malaysian security forces surround foreign gunmen in Lahad Datu

KOTA KINABALU - Malaysian security forces have surrounded a group of armed foreign fighters believed to have entered the east coast of Sabah. As at press time, the standoff is ongoing.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said: "The group has been ordered to lay down their arms and surrender."

He said the intrusion was related to problems in Southern Philippines.

The intruders had landed in Lahad Datu on Tuesday morning.

"The situation is under control, and the public need not worry,'' he said in a statement issued late last night.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zahid Hamidi confirmed that the group had landed near a secluded area close to Lahad Datu on Tuesday.

"I have ordered Armed Forces chief Jen Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin to take immediate action together with the police," Dr Zahid Hamidi told reporters in Bagan Serai, Perak.

Dr Zahid Hamidi said immediate action was necessary to ensure the country's defence and security was at optimum level .

"We will seek cooperation from neighbouring countries," he added.

It is understood that military and police tactical units have been mobilised to find the armed group in the Tambisan area, a 45-minute speedboat ride from the southern Phi­lip­pine island of Bongao.

Talk of militants in about a dozen small boats attempting to land in Lahad Datu has been rife over the past two weeks.

Tambisan, a coastal area about 165km from Lahad Datu town, is a known illegal immigrant landing point and surrounded by plantations.

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