Security forces in Malaysia's Sabah stage pre-dawn raid on refugee settlement

Security personnel checking the houses at the settlement in Saturday's dawn operation.
Security personnel checking the houses at the settlement in Saturday's dawn operation.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Security forces in the Malaysian state of Sabah carried out a massive pre-dawn operation in a notorious Filipino refugee settlement in the town of Telipok, located north of Kota Kinabalu on Saturday (Feb 13).

It could not be ascertained yet if the security forces were targeting extremist elements linked to the Abu Sayyaf group or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun declined to give details when contacted but said an operation was being conducted.

Witnesses said armed personnel carriers (APC) entered the settlement as early as 3am.

Many claimed to have seen security personnel enter every house in the area to check the villagers.

A source said the Task Force 450, a unit set up in eastern Sabah following the Lahad Datu intrusion in 2013, was among those involved in the operation.

The 2013 Lahad Datu incident saw 200 so-called army personnel of the self-proclaimed Muslim sultanate of Sulu in Sabah stage a failed attempt to invade the state in February of that year. A stand-off with Malaysian security forces followed, causing dozens of casualties on both sides.