Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Malaysian troops fight Filipino intruders

06 March 2013, 16:04

Kuala Lumpur - Malaysian security forces on Wednesday battled a group of Filipino intruders in the rugged terrain of Borneo after they escaped a military assault with fighter jets and mortar fire on their hideout, police said. One Filipino was shot and believed killed.

It was not clear if any of the intruders suffered any casualties in Tuesday's assault before they melted away into the jungles, chased by hundreds of Malaysian security forces. Previous clashes between the two sides have left 19 intruders and eight policemen dead.

Malaysia's national police chief Ismail Omar said security forces exchanged gunfire in a hilly coastal district thick with foliage slightly after dawn. One clansman was shot and possibly killed, he said.

"We're in a good position. We ask the public not to panic," Ismail said, adding that authorities would expand their search area beyond the current 4km².

The bizarre security crisis involves about 200 armed members of a Philippine Muslim clan, which claims to have a royal ancestral right over Malaysia's resource-rich eastern state of Sabah. They arrived with little fanfare from southern Philippines, a short boat ride away, three weeks ago and occupied a remote part of Sabah after scaring away the villagers.

Ignoring appeals by the Malaysian government as well as Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, the intruders have refused to leave to highlight their claim.

Operation Sovereign

The crisis has caught both countries by surprise. Few in Malaysia or the Philippines even know about the Filipino group led by Jamalul Kiram III, who claims to be the sultan, or the hereditary ruler, of the southern, predominantly Muslim province of Sulu in the Philippines.

Sabah and Sulu are separated by a narrow strip of the Sulu Sea that at its shortest span can be traversed by boat in 30 minutes. The two provinces have shared traditional ties and people, who are of the same ethnic stock, frequently travel back and forth. Around 800 000 Filipinos, mostly Muslims, have settled in Sabah over the years to seek work and stability.

Although tensions between the two communities are not uncommon, it is feared that the Kiram's claims and the violence over the past week will sour relations further and could lead to retaliation against the long-staying Filipino settlers.

On Tuesday, Malaysian soldiers and police attacked the area occupied by Kiram's followers for three weeks in an assault codenamed "Operation Sovereign" involving fighter jets, ground troops and mortar fires.

"Bombs were dropped, but they are still safe," Jacel Kiram, the sultan's daughter, said in Manila where she and her father are based.

She said her father's brother, who is leading the occupiers in Sabah, informed her by telephone that he and his followers were unhurt.

Calls for tougher border security

Commenting on Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman's announcement this week that the group was being formally considered terrorists, Kiram said, "Malaysia wants us dead, and all we want is to talk."

The Filipinos insist that Sabah, a state rich with timber and oil, had once belonged to their royal sultanate for more than a century and should be handed back.

What began as an outlandish but peaceful occupation turned violent after the Filipinos fatally shot two Malaysian policemen last week. Six other police officers were ambushed and killed by other Filipino assailants believed to be linked to the clansmen at a waterfront village in another Sabah district on Saturday. The Malaysians shot and killed 19 clansmen and their suspected allies.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario met his Malaysian counterpart this week and "pursued the possibility of allowing for an unconditional surrender of the group to avert further loss of lives and allow them to return to their respective homes and families", according to the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday.

Malaysian government officials have said the Filipinos must be prosecuted either in Malaysia or the Philippines for crimes such as murder.

Activists have called for tougher border security and immigration policies in Sabah, presenting a major political challenge to Prime Minister Najib Razak's ruling coalition, which faces general elections that must be held by the end of June.

Some fear the crisis will also complicate peace talks brokered by Malaysia between Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the main Muslim rebel group in the southern Philippines.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...