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Sabah Standoff Ends in Violence

Sabah Standoff
Sabah Standoff ended in violence

The standoff in Sabah, Malaysia between Malaysian authorities and followers of the Sultan of Sulu ended in violence this Friday leaving 14 people killed.


According to reports, 12 died from the Royal Army of Sulu and two among the Malaysian police in a 30-minute shootout.

Sabah Police Chief Hamza Taib said the encounter started when Kiram’s men open fired at the security forces who were tightening their cordon in the area.

Contrary to this statement, Rajah Agbimuddin Kiram who led the 100 to 300 armed men in Sabah stated that the Malaysian police surrounding the village opened fire and that his group fought back.

In a 17-day standoff, followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III led by his brother Rajah Agbimuddin Kiram came to the town of Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia claiming their rights to the territory of Sabah citing documents from the late 1800s.

The Islamic Sultanate of Sulu leased northern Borneo to Europeans in the 1870s.

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 Sulu Sultanate and his other heirs have been continually receiving an annual compensation from Malaysia, equivalent of about $1,700.

With this, Kiram believes on their ownership of Sabah because of the annual ‘rent’ they get from Malaysia.

Earlier, President Benigno Aquino III appealed to the group to leave immediately on the island and resolve the issues peacefully fearing for bloodshed to happen.

Despite these, Kiram and his group ignored the government’s effort, not minding the government’s statement that they had to face prosecution at home for triggering an armed conflict.

Kiram insisted their stay in Sabah even if they had to fight for it until their ‘last breath’.

The crisis erupted at a crucial stage of peace negotiations between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Meanwhile, the Philippines requested the Malaysian government that medics aboard a navy ship near the village be allowed to treat any of the Filipinos who may have been wounded Friday and take them back to country.

Also, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Spokesman Raul Hernandez said that they had formally demanded a full account of the shootout as well access to any detained Filipinos.

The Palace already expressed regret to the incident and the loss of the lives of those who were killed.