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M'sia police ready to end standoff

Military forces reinforcing its men and supplies on the ground at Felda Sahabat 17, near where the Sulu armed group is holed up at Lahad Datu airport Tuesday.

Publication Date : 27-02-2013


Malaysian police are set to end the standoff with the Sulu group holed in Tandou village, about 165km from here, as the armed intruders ignored last-minute attempts by Malaysian and Philippines authorities to get them to leave Sabah peacefully.

The group, led by Raja Muda Azzimudie Kiram, a brother of self-proclaimed Sulu Ruler Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, remained defiant and had rejected the latest request by Philippine President Benigno Aquino and Malaysia's emissaries although three deadlines given to them were extended, with the last ending yesterday.

In a telephone conversation with The Star, Azzimudie said his group was ready to face an attack.

“We are fine. We expect the Malaysian forces to attack today (Tuesday). We are ready to defend ourselves, we are not afraid,” he said.

Asked why he thought the group would be attacked, he replied: “Because it is shown on TV and was in the radio that the deadline is over. We are not afraid because we know we are right. This is our land.”

Asked if he was not afraid as he only had about 30 armed men, Azzimudie said: “We are prepared, we are waiting. We will not attack (but) we will defend ourselves.”

In the meantime, the secretary-general of the purported sultanate, Abraham Idjirani, said that the group rejected Aquino's appeal to return to the Philippines.

After keeping the Sulu patriots encircled for nearly three weeks, Malaysian security forces, who had been waiting for an order to disarm the group, made their presence at several strategic locations in and outside the surrounding Felda plantations yesterday.

Government and army medical teams are on standby should the green light be given to deport the Sulu group.

Asked if the move against the Sulu intruders will be made within the next 24 hours, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said: “Maybe. We are set to end the stand-off.”

In a nationally televised statement from the Palace, Aquino appealed to the Sulu Sultan to end the stand-off peacefully or face the full force of the law.

He said: “The point of no return has not been reached yet, but we are approaching that (time) fast.”

Stating that there were 180 people in the Sulu group, with about 20 to 30 armed, Aquino warned that as citizens of the Philippines, they were bound by its laws and the constitution which renounces war as an instrument of national policy.


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