Sabah crisis far from over, as 12 more killed – Bernama news agency
(Updated March 4, 7:59 a.m.) Belying widespread reports that the Sabah crisis was over, 12 more were killed over the weekend, including six Malaysian policemen in a firefight in Sabah Saturday night with an armed group believed to be Filipino followers of the Sulu Sultanate, according to Malaysia's state-run Bernama news agency and Agence France-Presse.
Malaysian police escort dead comrades killed by mortar fire. Malaysian police escort the body of dead police commandos killed in a mortar attack during a standoff with Sulu gunmen in Tanduo village near Lahad Datu on Sabah Friday. Fourteen people including two police officers were killed on March 1 as Malaysian security forces ended a standoff with Filipino gunmen over a territorial dispute in Sabah. AFP PHOTO / BERNAMA NEWS AGENCY
Six of the armed Filipinos were also reportedly killed.
An earlier report from Bernama said the incident occurred at about 8 p.m. Saturday at Kampung Selamat, Semporna, some 150 km from Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu, as Malaysian security forces were searching homes for the renegades.
Bernama cited information indicating the armed men "planned to attack Lahad Datu police station."
It added Lahad Datu and Tawau police special investigation divisions were deployed to the scene.
Information about the crisis has been sparse, with media prevented from nearing the action. But there could be as many as 180 armed Filipinos still at large in the area of Lahad Datu, according to some estimates.
Police Inspector General Tan Sri Ismail Omar "confirmed Saturday night's incident but refused further comment," Bernama said.
On Friday, two Malaysian police commandos were killed along with 10 to 12 of the followers of the Sulu Sultanate in Kampung Tanduo following a 17-day standoff. Many news outlets had declared the crisis over.
The renewed violence on Saturday demolished that notion.
President Benigno Aquino III on Saturday appealed to the armed Filipinos still in Sabah to surrender without conditions as Malaysia has deployed all-out pursuit operations against them.
'Fight to the death'
But a report on Malaysia's The Star online said the group spurned Aquino's calls for them to surrender and may "(set) the stage for possibly more bloodshed."
It quoted Sultan Jamalul Kiram III's brother Raja Muda Azzimudie Kiram as saying he and his followers would fight to the death.
According to the report, Azzimudie, in his latest text message to his elder brother Kiram in Manila, said that "after burying 10 of his followers including a woman at sundown, everyone of the 224 left decided to die in Lahad Datu in pursuit of their dreams."
The Star online quoted Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib as saying police were now working with the military for “firmer action” to resolve the standoff. — LBG/BM/HS, GMA News