Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Lahad Datu Standoff, green light to move in?
Malaysian security forces hinted at an early end to a standoff with a group of Filipinos in Sabah, saying they have been given the green light to disarm the group, a Malaysian news site reported early Tuesday.
A report on Malaysia's The Star online said the security forces are now just waiting for the right time to move and disarm the group led by Raja Muda Azzimudie Kiram.
“It is only a question of right timing for us to act,” Sabah police chief Commander Datuk Hamza Taib was quoted in the report as saying.
He took part in a two-hour briefing in Lahad Datu attended by security commandos, the General Operations Force, army, maritime, navy and police, the report said.
Also, The Star online reported a police helicopter had been dropping leaflets over the village in Tanduo, Sabah to persuade the Filipinos to surrender peacefully.
The standoff entered its third week this week, amid reports the Filipinos are running out of food supplies.
Malaysian security forces also formed a 500-meter cordon around the village where they are holed up, to block off any escape route.
Crucial 48 hours
The Star online report said the next 48 hours may be crucial to avoid bloodshed.
However, it also noted that both the Philippine and Malaysian governments are trying to persuade Azzimudie and his group to return home peacefully.
A Philippine "humanitarian" ship is now on standby to fetch the Filipinos.
But it has not yet received clearance from Malaysian authorities to move in as there is no sign the group is ready to be deported.
Meanwhile, Hamza was quoted in the report as saying police have so far arrested at least five men for alleged links to the group.
But he also denied reports two people were shot dead last weekend.
On Monday, however, members of the Royal Army of the Sultanate of Sulu, who are engaged in the standoff with Malaysian authorities in Sabah, remained adamant that they will not board the ship sent by the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs to take them back home.
Around 180 of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III's followers, some of them allegedly armed as claimed by Malaysian authorities, have been in a standoff with Malaysian police in Sabah since early this month to assert their claim on what they call their ancestral territory. —KG, GMA News
Posted by wikisabah at 4:48:00 PM