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Thursday, February 28, 2013

10 armed intruders in Lahad Datu reported killed


MANILA, March 1 — A standoff in Sabah erupted in violence today, with a spokesman for a group of armed Filipinos occupying a village in Lahad Datu saying 10 members of the group had been killed when police raided their camp.
But the Malaysian home minister denied that police had fired a shot and the Philippine government said it had received no reports of casualties among the group, who are followers of the Sultanate of Sulu, in the southern Philippines.
File photo of a special police force guarding the area where the armed Filipino men are holding off, in a plantation outside Lahad Datu. — Reuters picThe standoff with police has threatened to spark tension between the Philippines and Malaysia, whose ties have been periodically frayed by security and migration problems along their sea border. Both governments have urged the group to return home.
Abraham Idjirani, a spokesman for the group, told reporters in Manila that 10 members of the group had been killed and four wounded when Malaysian police raided the village where they have been holed up for more than two weeks.
Malaysia’s The Star newspaper reported that at least two gunmen had been killed and three police officers wounded.
The leader of the group earlier told Philippine radio they had been surrounded by Malaysian police, who have warned in recent days that a deadline for them to leave had passed.
“They are here, they entered our area so we have to defend ourselves. There’s shooting already,” Agbimuddin Kiram, brother of the former Sultan of Sulu, told the radio station by telephone.
“We’re surrounded,” Kiram said. “We will defend ourselves.”
Malaysian police could not be reached for comment.
Manuel Roxas, a Philippine government official who has been designated a spokesman on the stand-off, said in a radio interview that the Philippine government was verifying reports of the fighting.
Ricky Carandang, the Philippines’ presidential spokesman, said some of the group had tried to breach a cordon setup by the Malaysian security forces this morning.
“There was a warning shot but there’s no report of casualty, that was what we got and confirmed by the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs),” he told Reuters.
The armed group is demanding recognition from Malaysia and renegotiation of the original terms of a lease on Sabah by the Sultanate to a British trading company in the 19th century. Malaysian officials have said the group’s demands would not be met. — Reuters

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