A potentially life-threatening incident involving 80 innocent hostages was averted by the quick thinking and fearlessness of a group of youths from Kampung Senallang Lama, Semporna.
The incident started Sunday morning around 5 am when a “large man” – believed to have been involved in the ambush which claimed the lives of policemen in Semporna hours earlier – entered sleepy Kampung Senallang Lama.
The village is about 180km from the bloody confrontation at the village of Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu on Friday, between Malaysian security forces and Sulu militants.
Dressed all in black, the burly man, whom Sabah police have identified as a Sulu, was carrying a grenade launcher and firing shots from a M-16 rifle. The intruder, still unidentified, was a former commander in the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
One villager said the man entered the village shouting, “I’m the one who shot the police last night.”
He ordered the villages to come out of their homes, then herded about 80 people, some of them crying, into an open area where they were held hostage.
It is believed the man’s intention was to use the villagers – all mostly farmers or palm oil farmers – as bargaining chips to help win his freedom.
At one point in the ordeal, the armed man put down his rifle and squatted to light a cigarette –a move that highlighted what a deadly habit cigarette smoking can be.
The moment he looked down to light his cigarette a group of about 20 fast thinking, heroic youths moved quickly to overtake him.
They attacked the man and then, beat him to death before fleeing the scene. One reporter, who was able to see the body, said the head was covered in blood.
The quick thinking of the young people may have potentially saved the lives of everyone in the village.
Even the Sabah police commissioner, Datuk Hamza Taib agreed.
“To me, although the action was wrong from the legal point of view, we need to remember that the villagers were hostages. They had reacted to save their lives,” said Hamza.
It usually isn’t advisable to take matters into your own hands when facing an armed man, The Choicecommends this group of young people. Not only did they work as a team – they thought as one.
They stayed alert waiting for the right moment to pounce and then worked with full commitment to protect their lives and the lives of their families and neighbours.
For now, many of the villagers have packed their bags and are moving temporarily to nearby villages to stay with friends.