Life as usual for 5,000 M'sian villagers amid armed standoff

Cenderawasih (The Star/ANN) - It was life as usual for some 5,000 people in this Felda plantation town, even as armed men took over a nearby village in eastern Malaysia.

The presence of police and soldiers at entry points to the town has in fact lent a sense of security to the people who have been hearing tales of gunmen landing in the east coast of Sabah over the last few days.

"I feel a lot safer with the military and police here. I hope the problem will be solved soon,'' said Dahni Manaf as he sat with his friends outside a coffeeshop near the Cenderawasih police station about 130km from Lahad Datu town.

Tight security: Policemen manning a roadblock and checking vehicles in Bakapit, which is about 50km from Lahad Datu.

Farmer Irwin Mamesa, who was with Dahni, was confident that the security forces would be able to handle the matter.

Felda settler Jimin Sarah said there was no disruption to work in the plantation.

"We are working as usual. We do not feel threatened,'' said Jimin, who was also in Cenderawasih town for his cuppa.

At a roadblock leading to Cenderawasih, villagers at Kampung Perpaduan were similarly at ease.

Many people were also going about their work in the Tambisan area about 50km from this town.

Various rumours have been circulating in Cenderawasih and Lahad Datu.

Among the SMSes promptly dismissed by Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib as untrue was one of a supposed gunfight between Filipino gunmen and the police at the Felda area.

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