Friday, March 1, 2013
Shooting, deaths reported at Lahad Datu siege
The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s website quoted a Sabah radio station reporter as saying that he heard heavy firing after 10 am today, but did not name the reporter.
The website also quoted some villagers as witnessing bodies being removed, adding that Malaysian authorities have declined comment at press time.
About 180 Filipino rebels, including 30 gunmen, invaded Sabah on February 9 and have refused to leave, despite pleas from the Malaysian and Philippine governments.
A son of rebel group leader Agbimuddin Kiram reportedly said today that it was the Malaysian army, backed by the police, who opened fire.
Broadcaster Solar News Channel’s online news site also reported that both sides have suffered fatalities.
Agbimuddin’s family denied that Agbimuddin, who is the brother of self-proclaimed Sulu Sultan Jamallul Kiram III, was arrested by the Malaysian authorities, according to Solar News.
Jamallul reportedly said the rebels would not retreat despite the assault.
Residents in Lahad Datu told The Malaysian Insider that business owners were closing shops near the town and on the outskirts while parents were picking up their children from schools.
SAPP chief Datuk Yong Teck Lee tweeted that MAS has suspended flights to Lahad Datu.
He said several military flights landed this morning, according to locals.
The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez was quoted by Solar News as saying that shooting has stopped as of noon.
The Filipino invaders declared yesterday that they would never surrender and were willing to die in Sabah.
The armed group, suspected of being a faction of a Philippine Muslim rebel group, claims to belong to the “royal army” of the Sulu sultanate.
The bizarre drama had threatened to stir tension between the Southeast Asian neighbours whose ties have been periodically frayed by security and migration problems caused by a porous sea border.
News wire Reuters had reported that Malaysia pays a token sum to the Sultanate of Sulu each year for the “rental” of Sabah — an arrangement that stretches back to British colonial times.
In 2000, a group of militants from the southern Philippines kidnapped 21 tourists from the Sabah diving resort of Sipadan.
In 1985, 11 people were killed when gunmen, believed to be from the southern Philippines, entered Lahad Datu, shooting at random before robbing the local branch of Standard Chartered Bank.
Posted by wikisabah at 3:29:00 PM