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Old 21st March 2013, 05:27 PM   #6
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Malaysia kills 2 more Sulu army members in Sabah clashes
Thursday, March 21, 2013 12:43:57 PM

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Mar. 21, 2013) – Malaysian security forces killed two followers of the Sultanate of Sulu and captured a female member in separate clashes in Sabah’s Lahad Datu town.

Malaysian authorities said one of its soldiers was also wounded in the fighting that erupted Wednesday in the village called Tanjung Batu where security forces are pursuing the sultan’s men.

The identities of those slain in the fighting since hostilities began this month remain unknown, although Malaysia initially said that one of those killed was General Musa Abdulla, of the Royal Sulu Army.

It said there were two clashes in the village – one at 11.30 a.m. and the other at around 2 p.m. – and the operations are still going on in an effort to flush about 50 remaining followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram.

The ailing 74-year old self-proclaimed sultan sent about 200 followers - headed by his brother Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram - on February to Sabah to exert their claim and historical rights over the island, which is also being claimed by Malaysia.

More than 60 of the sultan’s men had been killed and over 300 Filipinos arrested on suspicion they were supporting or aiding the group of Raja Muda Agbimuddin.

Malaysia has put Sultan Jamalul and his brother on its wanted list and branded them as terrorists for intruding into Sabah and killing and decapitating 10 policemen and soldiers in separate clashes on the island.

It is also investigating reports that somebody was financing Sultan Jamalul to destabilize Sabah ahead of elections this year.

The Philippines, which is also holding its midterm polls in May, has began a probe into the same reports and pointed to political opposition and former Muslim rebels, opposed to the peace talks being brokered by Malaysia, as behind the destabilization efforts aimed at derailing the government negotiations with the country’s largest Muslim rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

There were also reports that several Malaysians allegedly met with Sultan Jamalul prior to the Sabah intrusion, but it was not immediately known whether the meeting had anything to do with the destabilization or not.

Sultan Jamalul has recently bared an assassination plot by a Malaysian group to kill him and other personalities tied to the Sultanate of Sulu for a still unknown reason, but President Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda branded the report as “tall tales.”

“This is getting ridiculous and every day they are coming out with tall tales. People should stop listening to tall tales,” Lacierda said, adding Philippine authorities have no reports about the slay plot. (Mindanao Examiner)

Malaysia's opposition claims leader of Sulu rebels is a Malaysian
By Melissa Goh, Malaysia Bureau Chief | Posted: 20 March 2013 2245 hrs

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's opposition alliance claims it has evidence that the leader of the Sulu rebels in Sabah is in fact a Malaysian citizen.

And it is using this to link the ruling UMNO party to the standoff in the east Malaysian state, denting Prime Minister Najib Razak's efforts to unite the country behind the crisis.

Even as Mr Najib told the nation of the government's social and economic achievements on Tuesday, security was on his mind.

He told Malaysians that the peace and stability they enjoy should not be taken for granted.

He said the Sulu militants' incursion into Sabah that has so far claimed the lives of eight Malaysian police officers and two soldiers was a wake-up call.

And Mr Najib pledged to defend Malaysia's sovereignty and the safety of its people at all costs.

He said: "Our men did not die in vain, their sacrifices should never be taken lightly. We will not let an inch of our land be taken away. This is the commitment of the present government."

His cabinet ministers said the prime minister's words have fired up the patriotic spirits of the people.

Shafiee Apdal, vice president of UMNO and Minister of Rural Development, said: "What happened in Lahad Datu, it's been quite an incident, which really produced a spark...

"People became more aware... how crucial and how important the safety of a nation is. It has indeed sparked the spirit of Malaysia, the sense of belonging, among all the Malaysians, in Sabah too."

Malaysian Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai said: "It unites the people in this country. Most importantly, the people feel more confident of the government, and the government can ensure safety and security to the people of this country. So it shows that the people are in the good hands of the government."

But the opposition has suggested that the ruling UMNO party may have had a link to the Sulu rebels.

It has produced documentary evidence that allegedly showed the leader of the Sulu rebels, Raja Muda Agbimudin Kiram, is a Malaysian citizen, and once worked for the Sabah state government as an assistant district officer in Kudat.

PKR strategist Rafizi Ramli said: "These are the questions that have been lingering in our minds. But for the last one month, if we ever were to raise this openly, we will be accused of being unpatriotic.

"It's very clear he is not the only one. That may explain the difficulty of our security forces to complete the mission swiftly as we expected."

If what the record said is true, then Agbimudin -- who is the brother of the self proclaimed Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram -- is 72 years old this year, and still leading over 100 sulu gunmen in waging a guerrilla war in Lahad Datu.

So far, the authorities have declined to comment. They believe that Agbimudin is still at large, hiding and evading arrest in the thick jungle in Sabah.

With the General Election widely expected next month, the opposition has threatened to turn the so-called "Project IC" into a greater election issue.

They said the alleged government's programme of freely granting citizenship to immigrants in exchange for votes is partly to blame for the current stand-off in Sabah.

- CNA/al
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