Sultan’s men, Malaysian forces exchange fire

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11:17 AM March 1st, 2013

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MANILA, Philippines — Malaysian security forces clashed with members of the Sulu sultanate’s “royal army” Friday, with casualties feared on both sides, reports culled by INQUIRER.net.

From Davao City, a Sabah-based radio station said its short wave broadcast monitored the firefight off Lahad Datu where close to 200 men of Sultan Jamalul Kiram have encamped to defend the Sulu Sultanate’s claim on Sabah.

The station said its reporter was stationed near Felda 17, the seaside village where Agbimuddin Kiram and his armed followers of about 180 had been holed up since February 12.

The station quoted its reporter as saying that he heard heavy firing shortly after 10 a.m.

The Sabah radio said efforts to get comments from Malaysian authorities failed as they were mum on the incident but some villagers claimed seeing bodies being moved out.

Interviewed separately by phone, Sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani in Manila and Datu Shaifuddin Kiram said their supporters were defending themselves from the Malaysian police commando forces.

“Nagsimula na po yung putukan, 10:00 dito kanina,” said Shaiffudin, the eighth among the siblings and youngest brother of Sultan Jamalul.

“Nagsimula po siya, ang nauna po yung Malaysian government po,” he said.

Shaiffudin said their last information was that there were casualties on both sides but said they have no details since they have lost contact with their people in Lahad Datu.

“Didipensahan nila yung sarili nila ho, wala nang iba kundi dipensahan yung sarili nila. So ang mangyayari na lang po, since sa media po tayo, yung concern po natin na is Pilipino na nandoon. Dapat ilabas natin ang tama para at least magising po yung mga tao lahat na tungkol dito sa isyu na ito,” he said.

The Sultan’s wife Dayang Dayang Fatima Celia Kiram, meanwhile said they were leaving it up to Allah.

“The Sultan called for the Immam to hold a prayer n asana hindi ito magtuluy tuloy,” she said but added that their supporters “were ready to die for the sake of truth.”

Meanwhile,  the Sultan said he did not believe reports that his brother Rajah Muda was arrested by Malaysian authorities.

“Hindi yun magpapahuli ng buhay,” the Sultan said. (With reports from Tetch Torres, INQUIRER.net; Ruel Perez, Radyo Inquirer 990AM.

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