Crown prince blames PNoy for lack of support
MANILA – Sulu sultanate crown prince Raja Muda Agdbimuddin Kiram on Tuesday aired his frustration with President Aquino for failing to back their move to press the sultanate of Sulu's claim over Sabah.
Speaking to radio dzMM, Kiram confirmed reports that fighter jets flew over their camp and bombs were deployed by the Malaysian reinforcements on Tuesday morning.
Kiram, however, could not confirm if anyone among his men died in the latest attack.
"Hindi. Hindi namin alam. Scattered kami ngayon. Hindi pa masyadong nako-confirm kung ilan ang casualties. Only god knows. God will help us," he said.
Kiram said the Philippine and Malaysian governments have ignored their demands for a re-negotiation of the Sabah issue.
He particularly singled out President Aquino, saying the Chief Executive did not seem to treat them like a fellow Filipino.
"Pinahuhuli nila ang mga tauhan namin maski walang kasalanan. Parang hindi kami Pilipino kay Aquino," he said.
Malaysian troops launched an attack on the royal army on Tuesday, trying to end a standoff on Borneo island after violence in recent days that killed at least 27 people, a spokesman for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said.
The operation to take over an area occupied by about 180 Filipinos, dozens of them armed, began at 7 a.m. (2300 GMT Monday), the spokesman said. The government sent seven army battalions to the area in eastern Sabah state on Monday to reinforce police.
Two policemen were killed along with 12 militants when Malaysian security forces tried to tighten a cordon around the armed group on Friday. That sparked more violence over the weekend with six policemen and seven more gunmen killed in another area, raising concerns the violence was spreading.
"After the first attack, I have asserted that the intruders must surrender and if they refuse the authorities of this country will take action," Najib said in a statement.
"The government has to take the right action in order to preserve the pride and sovereignty of this country."
A report by Malaysian news agency The Star, meanwhile, said continuous explosions were being heard as the police and army moved in against the gunmen who were reportedly firing back.
"The situation around Tanjung Labian, about 7 kms away from Tanduo village in Felda Village 17 was tense as more than 300 villagers huddled in a community hall kept hearing the explosions," the report said.
Kiram's group, which arrived by boat about three weeks ago, say they are descendants of the sultanate of Sulu in the southern Philippines, which ruled parts of northern Borneo for centuries. They are demanding recognition and an increased payment from Malaysia for their claim as the rightful owners of Sabah.
Malaysia has refused their demands and along with the Philippine government had urged the group to return home.
The violence has sparked a political crisis ahead of elections for both the Philippine and Malaysian governments and raised concerns of instability in resource-rich Sabah state. – with Reuters