Security forces gunned down a suspect believed to be a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group and kidnap for ransom group (KFR) during a shoot-out in the waters of Pulau Kantong Kalungan, in the Silam Sea area in Lahad Datu early this morning.
Sabah police commissioner Ramli Din said the suspect, Abu Paliyak, in his 30s, who is also a member of the Remy group or known as Two Brothers, was believed to be at sea to monitor the movements of the security forces and channel information to the KFR group to commit cross-border crimes in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone), when the incident took place at 3am.
However, he said a team from the Lahad Datu Marine Police Force (MPF) and an Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) Special Team on patrol under disguise came across the suspect who was acting in a suspicious manner.
“The suspect sped off and started shooting at the security forces from a distance of between 20 and 30 metres when they tried to approach him and introduce themselves as police.
"The security forces returned fire. Several minutes later, police caught up with the suspect’s boat and found him dead,” he told a media conference today.
Ramli said a modified shotgun with an empty casing and ammunition were found on the boat.
“The suspect, also known as commander Paliyak or Yusof, was believed to have been involved in several robbery and kidnap cases in the waters of Kunak and Lahad Datu in 2014 and 2015,” he said.
According to Ramli, the incident was the second success of the security forces co-ordinated by Esscom in neutralising a KFR suspect after the first incident at Pulau Burung in Kunak in September this year.
“The Two Brothers Group, believed to comprise 11 members were actively involved in kidnapping for ransom in the Esszone but five have been caught while four others were shot dead by the Philippines authorities.
“One is still at large and is currently believed to be in the Southern Philippines, and today we shot dead Abu Paliyak,” he said, adding the suspect was also involved in the kidnapping at Pulau Bait in 2014.
Meanwhile, in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah Suluk Solidarity Council secretary Mohd Zaki Harry Susanto said the success of the security forces showed a high level of preparedness in facing threats at any time.
He said the success also proved that Esscom was very serious in safeguarding the sovereignty of the nation in the waters of Sabah.
“Kudos to Esscom commander Hazani Ghazali who is seen to be very committed in empowering the function and authority of Esscom.
"Esscom has proven to be successful in checking KFR activities for a long period after the last kidnapping case took place.
“This does not mean cross-border criminals will not be involved in kidnapping, just that they cannot see any space or opportunity to do so,” he said.