Friday, 1 March 2013

Soldiers in close encounter with gunmen

A close encounter occurred between the Sulu armed group and Malaysian security forces in the ongoing standoff at Kg Tanduo but both sides held back their fire.

Sulu group leader Raja Muda Azimuddin Kiram said the incident occurred at 5.30pm on Wed­nesday when his men shouted that there were “soldiers” in the area.

He told The Star that the armed men rushed to the area and saw several soldiers about 100m from their positions, but declined to say if any shots were fired.

However, he told the Philippines’ media that there was gunfire.

Villagers here have said that the occasional gunfire they had heard over the past several days could be that of the Sulu gunmen hunting livestock left behind by the 15 families who fled the village.

The group’s supplies have been cut off with a tight land and sea security blockade thrown around the area.

Asked when he expected the standoff to end, Azimuddin said he did not know, adding that Malaysia should negotiate with his brother Sultan Jamalul Kiram III in Manila.

Azimuddin has been freely talking to the media via telephone here and Manila, easily switching between English, Malay, Tausug and Tagalog depending on who was interviewing him.

In a press conference at Felda Sahabat 17 after assessing the situation on the ground, Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib said there had been no shots fired.

“We are waiting for the right time before taking action,” he said, adding that the situation was under control and the police were still in charge.

Hamza said the move to drop leaflets with messages in Tausug, urging the gunmen to lay down their arms, had not borne fruit so far.

“We want them to surrender to avoid bloodshed. I am sure they have seen the leaflets but there has been no response so far,” he added

He said there would be no more negoations with the group, although Azimuddin had said they were prepared for new talks.

“Any action we take will be guided by the law,” said Hamza.

Reports from Manila stated that Philippines government was asking for a few more days to convince the Kiram family to evacuate the Sulu group from Sabah.

Source : TheStar


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