Malaysian PM to visit Sabah 'ground zero'

MANILA, Philippines - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is scheduled to visit the conflict zone in Sabah on Thursday, March 7.

Najib will arrive in Felda Sahabat anytime Thursday, according to Malaysian Home Minister Hishammudin Hussein.

"We have been updating him by telephone, but today he wants to visit ground zero," state news agency Bernama quoted Hishammuddin as saying.

The prime minister is reportedly planning to check on the ongoing "Ops Daulat" operation in the area, and Defense Minister Zahid Hamidi said the visit will "boost the morale" of Malaysian security troops deployed there.

"The Prime Minister wants to see the progress of our operations and the logistics and support for the troops," The Star newspaper quoted Zahid as saying.

Malaysian security forces, meanwhile, said they have secured sea and land routes to prevent supplies from reaching the group of Filipino gunmen still holed up in the area.

Earlier, Malaysian fighter jets were seen again over Lahad Datu, as local security forces continue their "mopping up" operation against Filipinos involved in the standoff in Sabah.

"Several fighter jets were seen flying over Felda Sahabat at about 8:35 am Thursday," online newspaper The Star reported.

The report added that the aircraft are believed to be heading towards the villages of Tanduao and Tanjung Batu in Lahud Datu, where the group led by Raja Muda Kiram is holed up. - with reports from KD Suarez/