Malaysia PM orders attack on Kiram men
MANILA - The prime minister of Malaysia confirmed Tuesday ordering an attack on armed followers of Raja Muda Agdbimuddin Kiram after a three-week standoff led to bloodshed over the weekend.
In a statement posted by the New Straits Times, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said he ordered the assault in Kampung Tanduo village after Kiram's men showed no intention to leave Sabah. He said at least 8 Malaysian policemen were killed in Lahad Datu and Semporna in separate attacks since Friday.
"After the first attack, I have reaffirmed that the intruders must surrender or we will act," he said in the statement.
He added: "The government must take action to defend the country's dignity and sovereignty as demanded by the people."
Najib said that before the recent assault, the Malaysian government arranged for meetings and discussions with Kiram's men in the hope that they would agree to leave peacefully.
"As an Islamic country that loves peace and uphold the struggle to end conflicts through negotiations, our effort to prevent bloodshed in Lahad Datu failed. Our security forces were attacked and our men killed. Malaysians, especially in Sabah, are worried for their safety," he 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), a spokesman for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said. The government sent 7 army battalions to the area in eastern Sabah state on Monday to reinforce police.