Philippines sends police attaché to Sabah

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04:45 PM February 15th, 2013

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By: Karen Boncocan, February 15th, 2013 04:45 PM

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MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines has sent a police attaché to Sabah to assess the on-going standoff between Malaysian authorities and an armed group claiming to be members of the royal armed forces of the Sultanate of Sulu.

In an interview with Radyo Inquirer 990AM, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez said that Manila has yet to confirm if the 100 men from Mindanao were really armed and whether they were members of any armed group in the southern Philippines.

“Our embassy sent a police attaché in Sabah to gather information. Also our defense and security officials are in touch with their Malaysian counterparts to determine what really happened in Sabah,” said Hernandez.

Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Thursday that about 80 to 100 gunmen had been cornered by security forces near the small coastal town of Lahad Datu in Sabah.

The area was once controlled by the former Islamic sultanate of Sulu and has a history of incursions by armed Filipino Muslim groups.

Malaysia’s national police chief Ismail Omar was quoted as saying the militants had declared themselves followers of “a descendant of the Sultan of Sulu” demanded the right to stay in Sabah.

Hernandez begged off questions on the specifics of the armed group, saying the DFA had to be careful in issuing information since “for now there were many speculations and we do not want to add more speculations until we are able to complete our information.”

He said that they expect information from the police attaché this weekend.

With Agence France-Presse and Associated Press

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