The six police officers who were killed at Kampung Simunul in Semporna on March 2 were found to be badly mutilated, said the police in a Facebook posting late yesterday (Wednesday).
Relating the chronology of events of the Sabah crisis, the police also revealed that they had to dispatch a rescue team to the village a day later to save the injured and retrieve their dead colleagues following a deadly ambush by a group of intruders from southern Philippines.
According to the Facebook posting, the police send a team to Kampung Simunul and Kampung Sri Jaya to investigate reports on the presence of the Filipino intruders.
"Upon arrival at Kampung Simunul, the police party was ambushed by the intruders. Six police personnel sacrificed their lives while two others were injured. Six armed intruders were killed by the police.
"The police despatched a rescue team to retrieve the bodies of our fallen heroes and rescued personnel who were trapped in Kampong Simunul, Semporna. The team successfully executed the mission.
"The bodies of dead police personnel were found to have been brutally mutilated by the armed intruders," says the posting.
Police have named the six - Supt Ibrahim Lebar, ASP Michael Padel, Sergeant Baharin Hamit, Sergeant Abdul Aziz Sarikon, Koperal Salam Togiran and Lans Korporal Mohd Azrul Tukiran.
Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar had previously refused to confirm reports that some of the victims were beheaded and even had their eyes gouged out.
Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad had apparently alluded to this incident at a press conference on Tuesday and described the invaders' action as unIslamic.
This macabre incident was also raised at a midnight meeting between Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman on Monday in Kuala Lumpur.
However, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs issued a clarification yesterday, taking pains to point out that del Rosario did not label the Filipino group as "terrorist", but had conceded that the atrocities, if true, would be considered "terroristic" acts.
"In Semporna, there were alleged acts of terrorism. As reported by the Malaysian foreign minister, after the police forces were lured into an ambush and killed, their bodies were brutally mutilated and desecrated.
"If indeed these atrocities were committed as reported to him, the secretary and the foreign minister both agreed that these were, at the very least, terroristic acts," says the statement.
Police's chronology of events
Feb 12, 2013 - Armed intrusion at Lahad Datu where about 150 armed persons in army fatigues intrude into Felda Sahabat, Lahad Datu.
Police cordon the area and order the group to lay down their arms and surrender.
Feb 14 to Feb 28 - Negotiations were conducted where intruders, identified to be from the southern Philippines, claimed to be linked to the so-called ‘Sulu Sultanate'.
There were several rounds of negotiations between the intruders and police to avoid bloodshed.
The deadline for the intruders to leave peacefully on Feb 24 passed but negotiations continued to allow them to retreat.
March 1 - Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu shooting incident that resulted in the first two Malaysian casualties due to a mortar attack. Twelve armed intruders were shot dead by police.
Police drop leaflets from a helicopter, ordering the armed intruders holed up in Kampung Tanduo to surrender.
PM Najib warns the invaders to surrender, failing which the authorities would take action. Philippine President Benigno Aquino III urges the intruders to surrender unconditionally.
March 2 - The shooting incident in Kampung Simunul in Semporna where six police officers died and another six intruders (photo) were killed.
Another armed intruder, identified by the villagers as an imam, was also killed in Kampung Sinalang Lama by villagers after he tried to take them hostage.
March 3 - Police rescue those trapped and retrieve the bodies of the dead.
March 4 - Military reinforcement arrived where seven army battalions were deployed to Sabah. Kampung Tanjung Batu and Kampung Tanjung Labian were declared "red zones" following reports of gunmen landing there.
The intruders labeled as "terrorist" after a meeting between the Malaysian foreign minister and the Philippine secretary in Kuala Lumpur. [This was disputed by Manila].
March 5 - Joint action by security forces. Najib says the security forces have launched ‘Ops Daulat' to end the standoff with the terrorists in Kampung Tanduo to defend the dignity and sovereignty of the country. Mopping and searching operation followed suit to clear and secure the area.
March 6 - One armed terrorist shot dead while trying to ambush Malaysian national security forces. Area of operation is expanded. Security situation much under control.
(This article was first posted on independent news site Malaysiakini and is used here with permission.)