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Latest News Philippines: BLOODSHED IN SABAH –

THE Department of Foreign Affairs yesterday confirmed that Malaysian authorities are now pursuing the “royal army” of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III after assaulting the group of Filipinos in Lahad Datu that led to several deaths and injuries.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said Malaysian Ambassador to Manila Dato’ Mohd Zamri Bin Mohd Kassim met with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario yesterday to inform him about the assault.

Ten of Kiram’s supporters surrendered while the other members of the “royal army” escaped and ran towards the sea, the DFA was told. The owner of the house where Kiram stayed was killed.

The 10 were led by Kiram’s brother, Raja Muda Agbimuddin, Hernandez said.

On the part of the Malaysian authorities, two policemen were killed and one was wounded when the group of Kiram fired at the raiding Malaysian law enforcers.

The Malaysian Ambassador stressed the standoff is now over.

The DFA said they are still verifying reports that 10 of Kiram’s group were killed and four others were wounded.

“We have heard from Kiram’s group here in Manila that ten of the Filipinos there were killed and four others were wounded. We still have to validate that report,” Hernandez said.

The spokesman said, Del Rosario had requested the Malaysians to allow the Philippine Navy ship BRP Tagbanua to dock in Lahad Datu to enable the Philippine medical personnel to attend to the wounded and bring them home.

“For those wounded as well as others, we would like to have full access to offer and extend consular assistance to them,” he added.

The standoff began on February 9 when more than 100 Filipinos led by Muda Azzimudie Kiram, the brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, entered Lahad Datu in Sabah.

The group said they have claims over Sabah, citing numerous historical accounts and rental receipts from the Malaysian government.     

Peaceful solution

President Benigno Aquino was “fully aware” of the reported firefight between Malaysian authorities and a group of armed Filipinos in Sabah even as he issued marching orders for concerned government officials to continue finding a “peaceful solution” to the problem.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office head Ricky Carandang said the concerned Cabinet members may talk to their Malaysian counterparts for a peaceful resolution.

”He (Aquino) is fully aware of what happened. [He wants to have] a peaceful solution to this,” Carandang said.

Carandang,  however, declined to give further details, saying they are still “verifying” details of the incident.

Earlier, Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, the leader of the group of Filipinos in Sabah, said they were fired upon by Malaysian security forces. He said that while some of the Filipinos had been wounded, they are not surrendering.

Also yesterday, the firefight between followers of the Sulu sultanate and Malaysian security forces in Sabah Friday morning forced the cancellation of a meeting between the Malaysian ambassador and the sultanate’s spokesman.

Abraham Idjirani said that he was on his way to the meeting when Sultan Jamalul Kiram III “called our attention” to the incident, which prompted him to return to Kiram’s residence in Maharlika Village in Taguig City.

He apologized for not showing up for the meeting but said, “we are not closing our doors to future talks.”

The meeting would have been between the sultanate and Malaysian officials.

Later in the day, the Malaysian ambassador confirmed to the DFA that there was a shooting in Lahad Datu, but there were no casualties, and the situation has calmed down at the moment, according to DFA spokesman Hernandez. This was before the report that two Malaysian policemen were confirmed killed in the firefight.

Hernandez said the firing had stopped as of Friday noon. “Sa ngayon ang putukan tumigil na.”   With EMontano


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