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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sulu sultanate claims 10 intruders killed in Lahad Datu

A spokesperson of the sultanate of Sulu claimed that 10 people were killed and four others wounded in a firefight between Malaysian security forces and the Sulu sultanate intruders in Lahad Datu this morning.

NONEABS-CBNnews reported that spokesperson Abraham Idjirani said he had just talked to the self-proclaimed Sulu sultan Jamalul Kiram’s (left) brother Azzimudie Kiram, who heads the armed group in Lahad Datu.

Azzimudie confirmed that 10 of his men were killed and four others wounded in the shooting incident.

"He saw the bodies himself," Idjirani told a press conference in Manila. 

"The fatalities included one woman."

Idjirani appealed to the Malaysian government to stop the attack, saying Azzimudie’s men were armed only with bolos (machetes) and knives and only a few had guns.

He claimed that Malaysian police commandos were using snipers to get at Azzimudie’s men.

Malaysian Chinese daily China Press has quoted unverified sources at the scene claimeing that two intruders were shot dead, while three members of the Malaysian forces suffered wounds.
However, ABS-CBNnews reported that the Malaysian ambassador to the Philippines has confirmed there had been a shooting incident between the two sides but there were no casualties.

Philippine Department of Foreign Affair (DFA) spokesperson Raul Hernandez told the news agency that Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario had just talked to the Malaysian ambassador, who confirmed there had been shooting in Lahad Datu but that it had already stopped.

He said Manila is monitoring the situation.

Ricky Carandang, the Philippines' presidential spokesman, told Reuters that 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," he told Reuters.

Earlier today, Idjirani told The Philippine Star that Azzimudie’s group had been fired upon by Malaysian security forces.

Idjirani claimed that the sultanate members had called and informed them about the rising tension at about 6am today.

“This morning is a moment in history, that the Malaysian security forces fired the first shot,”  he was quoted as saying.

On the other hand, he noted that Azzimudie could not ascertain if the first shot had been aimed at his people. 

However, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has claimed that Malaysian security forces were attacked at 10am today, but that had yet to return fire.

“Lahad Datu - I confirm that our security forces have not taken a single shot but were shot at 10am this morning!

“Lahad Datu: the situation is still under full control. They (the intruders) are still being surrounded. The authority has not returned any shots. Let us pray!” he posted in his Twitter account.

Sulu group appealed to Malaysia 

According to Idjirani, Azzimudie also informed them earlier that the Malaysian authorities were already approaching the area.

"However, there was bit of a respite and it was good that the Malaysian police had withdrawn later, according to crown prince (Azzimudie)," Idjirani said.

NONEHe claimed that the Malaysian forces came as close as 300 metres from the area where more than 200 followers of the sultanate had been holed up.

The sultanate official also appealed to the Malaysian government to reconsider its actions, stressing that their people in Lahad Datu have no intentions of creating trouble.

"However, if the Malaysian authorities push for action, then the sultanate followers there have no recourse but to defend themselves to their last breath," Idjirani said.

Another Philippine media, Philippine Daily Inquirer, reported that a Sabah-based radio station had broadcast that its reporter who was stationed near Felda 17 - an area near Kampung Tanduo where the armed group was holed up - heard heavy firing shortly after 10am.

The Sabah radio said their efforts to get comments from the Malaysian authorities has failed as the latter were mum on the incident, but some villagers have since claimed seeing bodies being moved out. 

[More to follow]
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