10 Filipinos killed as gunshots fired in Sabah standoff: Report PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 02 March 2013 10:55

KUALA LUMPUR — Filipino gunmen were killed and Malaysian law enforcers injured as gunshots were fired in a standoff between a Filipino group (followers of the Sultan of Sulu) and Malaysian authorities Friday in a village in Malaysia’s Sabah state, Malaysian media reported.

At least 10 Filipino gunmen were killed and four others injured, according to the Star, while three Malaysian policemen were injured in the standoff.
Villagers said they were still hearing gunshots.

Malaysian security forces were said to have advanced into Tanduo village, where the Sultan’s group was holed up in an enforced blockade after the group failed to heed an ultimatum set by both the Filipino and Malaysian authorities to leave.

The rebels were reported to have fired shots in the air to warn off the Malaysian security forces a day earlier.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak commented at a press conference on Friday that “the group must realize that what they are doing is a serious offense.”

Home Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein denied the reports of casualties and said negotiations would continue even after the deadline.

The Malaysian government has set last Sunday a deadline for the rebel group to leave Malaysia while the Filipino government extended it to Tuesday.

Malaysian authorities have been in a standoff since February 9 with the group of about 180 who invaded parts of Sabah’s eastern Lahad Datu to reclaim the area as their ancestral territory.

Some 30 people among the group were said to be armed.

Rounds of negotiations by officials from both Malaysia and the Philippines with the intruders went futile as the Sultan’s group insisted they will never surrender, rejecting calls by President Benigno Aquino III to leave Sabah peacefully.

The Malaysian government had kept mum about the negotiation process, citing concerns that sensationalization on the case would jeopardize the group’s deportation.

Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, Sultan Jamalul Kiram’s brother who led the “ royal army” in Sabah, told Filipino radio dzBB in an interview on Friday that his group were being shot at and there have been casualties.

The Malaysian forces were said to have come as close as 300 meters from where the group was holed up.

The Philippines had last Sunday sent a humanitarian ship with Filipino-Muslim leaders, social workers and medical personnel onboard to Sabah in an attempt to ferry back the women and other civilians among the rebel group.

Analysts have said the group had resorted to what Malaysians describe as “invading Sabah” after they felt being left out in a landmark peace deal between the Filipino government and Muslim separatist group the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that was brokered by Malaysia.