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Sabah assault: 15 dead
« on: March 02, 2013, 07:28:43 PM »
By Jaime Laude and Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 2, 2013 - 12:00am


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MANILA, Philippines - A standoff between Malaysian security forces and followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III ended in violence yesterday, with two Malaysian police officers and a Sabah villager and up to 12 of Kiram’s men killed as Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak declared his patience had run out.

Najib, quoted by state news agency Bernama, confirmed the Malaysian police deaths and said that 10 to 12 Filipinos had been killed after their group tried to break through a security cordon around a village in Lahad Datu where they had been holed up since Feb. 9.

Malacañang confirmed the deaths and called the turn of events “saddening.”

“We regret the loss of lives,” Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang told reporters last night after a meeting with President Aquino and other officials.

“We condole with the families of those who were lost,” Carandang said, adding that the standoff could not be considered over because Malaysian forces and followers of Kiram were still in the area.

“There now exists a small window of opportunity to arrive at a peaceful conclusion to the situation in Lahad Datu; we are exerting every effort to seize that opportunity, and are hopeful that the Kiram family and their followers will seize it with us, so that further bloodshed may be avoided.

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« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2013, 07:29:13 PM »
“Since the onset, our primary goal had been to resolve the situation without violence. That is why President Aquino urged the followers of the Kiram family to lay down their arms and return home, so that their grievances can be addressed through sober, productive dialogue,” Carandang said.

Carandang said they could not confirm reports that a crackdown on Filipinos in Sabah had begun because of the incident.

The group that battled with Malaysian forces was led by the sultan’s brother Agbimuddin, also called Raja Muda or crown prince.

More than 200 followers of the Sultanate of Sulu landed in Sabah last month, declaring the territory as their homeland.

Both the Philippine and Malaysian governments had repeatedly urged them to return home.

Reports said most of the Filipino gunmen had fled the fighting.

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« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2013, 07:29:45 PM »
Najib said he had now given Malaysian security forces a mandate to take “any action” against the group.

“Do not test our patience, our patience has reached the limit,” he was quoted as saying earlier.

“We have a plan to remove them, they should have surrendered and left,” said Najib, who must call national elections by April and has come under pressure from the opposition for allowing the bizarre standoff to drag on.

Three Malaysian police officers were wounded in the shootout, police said.

The Philippines only confirmed one death among the group, saying that 10 had surrendered while the rest had fled towards the sea.

The sultanate’s spokesman Abraham Idjirani told reporters in Manila that the men had moved to another location to continue their fight and urged Malaysia to hold talks.

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« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2013, 07:30:20 PM »
The confrontation had threatened to reignite tension between the Philippines and Malaysia. Ties have been periodically frayed by security and migration problems along their sea border.

The group is demanding recognition from Malaysia and renegotiation of the original terms of a lease on Sabah by the sultanate to a British trading company in the 19th century.

Bernama said two Malaysian policemen were killed in a mortar attack launched by the Filipinos.

Idjirani said 10 of the sultanate’s soldiers and a 28-year-old mother were killed in the attack started by Malaysian security forces.

News reports from Kota Kinabalu, quoting Lahad Datu residents, said scores of wounded Malaysian security forces had been seen being transported out of Tanduo village near Lahad Datu on military trucks.

The firefight began at 10 a.m. yesterday. By noon, Malaysian snipers were reportedly seen picking targets in the coastal town, according to Agbimuddin in a radio interview.

He said the Malaysian forces were only about 300 meters from his men.

“They came upon us so we had to defend ourselves,” Agbimuddin said.

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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2013, 07:30:51 PM »
He said they had the names of two fatalities in the sultan’s side but declined to reveal them at the moment.

“We appeal to you not to name them first so their relatives in Sulu will not react violently,” he said.

He also appealed for prayers from both the Muslim and Christian communities in the Philippines as he bared plans by the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo and the Kiram family to raise the incident before the Red Crescent and the Red Cross.

He also denied reports that Malaysian commandos had arrested Agbimuddin.

“We would like to deny the report in regard to the status of Raja Muda Kiram. We just talked to him, he is well, he’s not wounded, he is still leading the struggle. He is not among those killed or captured as reported by the Malaysian embassy. That (report) that the Raja Mudah is already captured and now in the hands of the Malaysian police commandos is false,” he said.

Idjirani said Agbimuuddin – referred to as Azzimudie by the Malaysian press –  called him up early yesterday to report that Malaysian forces were already “penetrating the ground.” It was at around 10:30 a.m. when Malaysian commandos opened fire at Kiram’s men, killing 10 of them and injuring scores of others.

“We got this information directly from Raja Muda. So who are we going to believe? The people announcing from Malacañang or the Raja Muda himself?”

Idjirani said the sultanate had been made to believe that the problem would be finally resolved peacefully.



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