Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hazani Ghazali said one of them was the subleader of the terrorist group, known as Mabar Binda, who was also wanted by the Philippine government.
He said three others were identified as Abhirsham [email protected], Jurakhdam Binda and Alsimar Sukarno, aged between 20 and 40, while the identity of the fifth member has yet to be ascertained.
“With the death of five members of the group, we (the police) believe that we have crippled yet another cell of Abu Sayyaf who have been hiding in Sabah and have pledged allegiance to Daesh militant group.
“We also suspect that there are remnants of the group still hiding in Malaysia, especially in Sabah. We are investigating it,” he told a press conference at the Sabah Police Contingent headquarters here today.
Hazani said all the five members of the group were Filipinos.
He said a team of policemen had come to the area and knocked on the door of one of the squatter houses when the suspects, armed with pistols, opened fire at the officers, while the others tried to attack using machetes, prompting the officers to fire back in self-defence.
All suspects were killed at the scene. Following a search, police found two semi-auto Colt .45 pistols, 20 live bullets, and three machetes.
Hazani said Mabar and three of the suspects were the ones who had managed to escape a police raid at the same location on May 8, during which eight members of the group were arrested, together with 39 Filipinos who did not possess any valid identification document.
“One of the eight members of Abu Sayyaf arrested on May 8 was his (Mabar’s) elder brother. We believe that they returned to the mangrove swamp area to get food supply and to hide as the place is quite hidden from public view,” he said.
He said police believed that the suspects had been hiding in the area since November last year and that there were some ‘sympathisers’ who had been providing them with aid and assistance.
“Police believe among the factors the west coast and rural areas of Sabah have been the perfect hideout for the terrorist group was because they were more ‘peaceful’ compared to the east coast where the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) is operating,” he said.
Hazani said the people in Beaufort, however, need not worry about their safety following the crossfire as it occurred far from any residential area.
Nevertheless, he said all security forces in Sabah have been asked to stay vigilant for any possible retaliation from the terrorist group.
He said 83 individuals believed involved in Daesh militant group have been arrested in Sabah, especially in the west coast and rural areas, between 2014 and 2020.