Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Malaysian police enter Sabah standoff village after 'last warning'

Malaysian security forces briefly entered the village in Lahad Datu town where followers of the Sulu sultanate have been holding out for the last two weeks but were driven off, the leader of the group said Wednesday.

Raja Muda (crown prince) Agbimuddin Kiram, said in a radio interview that he was in a meeting when six Malaysian soldiers entered the village of Tanduo.

However, Agbimuddin said, the soldiers retreated when his followers went to meet them.

The incident happened soon after a Malaysian aircraft dropped leaflets on Lahad Datu's Tanduao village containing a “last warning” for Agbimuddin, brother of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, and his followers to “surrender now.”

The crown prince led close to 200 of the sultanate’s followers to Sabah.

"Anim nagpunta sa area namin (Six of them went to our area) while we were conducting (a) meeting in the house where I'm staying … tapos nakapunta diyan ‘yung kasama namin nag-inform sa’min. ‘Yung mga kawal namin immediately ran. Sabi nila raw anim ang Malaysian soldiers armed with Armalite. ‘Nung nakita sila ay tumakbo (then one of our companions informed us. Our warriors immediately ran. They said there were six Malaysian soldiers armed with Armalite rifles. When they saw our men they ran away)," Agbimuddin said.

The leaflet drop happened around 2 p.m.

Datu Abdil Nasser Kiram, second to the youngest brother of Kiram III, translated excerpts from the message, written in Tausug that Agbimuddin relayed to him.

"This is our last warning to you or you will regret what will happen to you," the leaflets said. "Think of the loved ones you have left behind in the Philippines."

The message also said the leaflets would serve as a safe conduct pass for those who want to leave Sabah.

The leaflets were dropped after Malaysian authorities said they were “set to end” the standoff with the Sulu sultan’s followers, possibly within the next 24 hours, as reported by Malaysian news site The Star.

The possibility came after the sultan rejected calls on Tuesday, including one from President Benigno Aquino III, for him to order his followers home.

In his other text messages to his family in the Philippines, Agbimuddin said he and his group were leaving everything to Allah, do or die, make or break.”

Also, Agbimuddin said the Malaysian soldiers who wento to Tanduao were “either provoking them or testing their strength or capability.”

Malaysia had also given the sultan’s followers three deadlines the last of which expired Tuesday night, to leave.

Asked by The Star if a move against the Sulu sultan’s followers would be made within the next 24 hours, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar replied: “Maybe. We are set to end the standoff.”

The Star also managed to interview the sultan’s brother by phone and quoted him as saying they expected to be attacked but were “ready to defend ourselves, we are not afraid.”

“We are not afraid because we know we are right. This is our land,” he told the Malaysian news outfit.

He also said he would take orders only from his brother the sultan.

The Star reported that Malaysian security forces had deployed “at several strategic locations in and outside the surrounding Feld plantations” on Tuesday and that “government and army medical teams are on standby should the green light be given to deport the Sulu group.”-Interaksyon (February 27, 2013 12:00PM)

No comments: