Sultan wants UN peacekeeping forces in Sabah
MANILA – Following a call for an immediate ceasefire to the violence in Sabah, the spokesman for Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III now wants United Nations peacekeeping forces in the disputed territory.
Abraham Idjirani said the entry of UN peacekeeping forces is meant to avoid further loss of lives, especially among the civilians living in Sabah.
He said the idea of requesting UN intervention was suggested on Thursday by Sulu crown prince Raja Muda Agbidmuddin Kiram, who led about 200 followers to the town of Lahad Datu on February 12 to press the sultanate's claim to the resource-rich territory.
"Nang sinabi natin ang [pagtawag para sa] cessation of hostilities, sabi niya (Raja Muda) hanggang noong mga oras na iyun sila ay binobomba. Sabi niya, kailangan siguro makapasok na ang UN peacekeeping forces upang susunod na ang gobyerno ng Malaysia sa panawagan ng United Nations," Idjirani told dzMM.
Kiram III's group declared a unilateral ceasefire on Thursday noon following a call from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to end the violence and hold talks.
The Malaysian government, however, immediately rejected the group's call and said it would continue to press the offensive.
Nevertheless, Idjirani said they are still hoping that the Malaysian government would change its mind and finally hold talks with them.
"Ang mahalaga ay naipakita natin sa buong mundo na ang Sultanate of Sulu ay marunong tumupad sa usapan at panawagan ng United Nations para maresolba ang issue ng payapa," he said.
"Kahit ni-reject ng Malaysia, ang fundamental concern natin ay 'yung pag-reciprocate sa panawagan ng UN. Iyun pa ring ang intensyon natin para matigil ang violence at atrocities na ginagawa ng Malaysian authorities sa inosenteng Filipino civilians sa Sabah."
52 royal army soldiers, 8 Malaysian cops dead
Malaysia said clashes between intruding Filipino militants and its security forces had left 60 people dead as of late Thursday.
Police chief Ismail Omar said 32 followers of the sultan had been killed in two confrontations since Wednesday near the scene of a three-week standoff in Sabah state, after a military assault to remove them.
That brought the total dead to 60, including 52 militants. Eight Malaysian policemen were killed in skirmishes last weekend.
Idjirani, however, citing information from Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, said only 10 royal army soldiers have been killed so far since the firefights began last week.
He believes that the rest of the fatalities were innocent civilians.
The firefight erupted in Lahad Datu last Friday, March 1. Violence continued the following day in the town of Semporna.
Malaysian forces then launched a bigger offensive last Tuesday, March 5, sending fighter jets and dropping bombs in the intruded areas. - with Agence France-Presse