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Sulu gunmen told: Surrender or face drastic action
Publication Date : 02-03-2013
Gunbattle kills 12 Filipinos and two Malaysian police officers
The remaining members of the “royal army” of a Sulu sultan must surrender or “face drastic action,” the Malaysian police said Saturday.
“We have no other options but to take the necessary action to detain them,” Inspector General of Police Ismail Omar said a day after a gunbattle between the followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and Malaysian forces left 12 Filipinos and two Malaysian police officers dead.
Ismail said the gunmen, led by a brother of the Sulu sultan, Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, must immediately lay down their arms and surrender.
Kiram’s followers, estimated at between 100 to 300 people, have been holed up in a remote village of Sabah on Borneo island since February 12, insisting that the area belongs to the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu. They sailed from Mindanao to press the sultan’s claim to Sabah.
The impasse, in which Malaysian police and military units have locked down the rural area, erupted in violence Friday when security forces moved to tighten a cordon around the intruders, police said.
The Sulu group was now “trapped” and has no other alternative but to surrender, adding that the Malaysian police were in complete control of the situation, Ismail said after attending a briefing about the ongoing operations along with Home Minister Hishamuddin Tun Hussein at the police General Operations Force in Felda Sahabat here.
Hishamuddin said he would remain in Sabah until the standoff was resolved.
The Islamic Sultanate of Sulu once controlled parts of Borneo as well as southern Philippine islands. In the 1870s, it leased northern Borneo to Europeans.
While the sultanate’s authority gradually faded as Western colonial powers exerted their influence over the region, it continued to receive lease payments for Sabah.
The former British colony became part of the federation of Malaysia when it was formed in 1963.
Kiram and the other heirs of the sultan still receive nominal annual compensation from Malaysia — the equivalent of about $1,700.
Kiram’s spokesman Abraham Idjirani suggested last week that the men would stand down if the compensation was substantially raised. - Reports from The Star, Philippine Daily Inquirer and agencies