LAHAD DATU: Dozens of suspected sympathisers of the so called Sulu gunmen have been detained for questioning by police over the past fortnight.
They included relatives of the Sulu armed group's leader Raja Muda Azizmudie Kiram, a few uniformed personnel and a local politician here.
Police are believed to be particularly interested in questioning a very close relative of Azzimudie who had played an advisory role to the Sulu group, and has gone into hiding either here or in Semporna.
However, no official confirmation was available on the number of arrests so far and their identities as police try to establish the links of the Sulu armed group to local families and sympathisers.
On Tuesday night, villagers near Kembarabudi in the Felda Sahabat area said police also detained eight people as they were driving out of the Tanjung Labian area, about 5km away along the coastline from Tanduo village which was bombed earlier in the day.
The villagers claimed that those detained could include a son of Azzimudie and a woman related to him.
Azzimudie, the brother of self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III, had told The Star over the telephone that one of his sons was with him in Tanduo along with 200 to 300 of his followers, including six women.
Tanduo residents, who fled when the Sulu group first landed on Feb 9, have said that Azzimudie and his top army man known as Musa, a former Moro National Liberation Front member, were related to local village leaders through marriage.
Azzimudie was an assistant district officer of Kudat in the early 1970s and his family had many relatives living in Lahad Datu, Semporna and Sandakan.
Police have been questioning many of his relatives as part of intelligence gathering with rumours of local groups planning attacks or stealing weapons from security installations.