MANILA, Philippines—The clash between the “Royal Army” of the Sultanate of Sulu and Malaysian authorities in the village of Simunul in Semporna town has left six policemen and 11 supporters of the Sultan dead, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
The clash is the second incident of violence in Sabah following the gunfight on Friday in Tanduo village in Lahad Datu Friday morning that left 12 dead on the side of the Sultanate and two dead from the Malaysian security forces.
“Based on the report of our embassy officials and the information gathered directly from the special branch operations of the Malaysian police, as of 8 p.m. on Sunday March 3, the Semporna incident that happened over the weekend has been brought under control by the Malaysian authorities,” DFA Spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters Monday.
“During the Semporna incident, six members of the police and 11 supporters of the Kiram group were killed in action,” Hernandez said.
Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III had previously sent his men to Sabah to reclaim what he says is their rightful territory.
The Malaysian government has been repeatedly ordering the group in Lahad Datu, led by the Sultan’s brother Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, to leave Sabah.
A separate group had attacked a police station in Semporna and “freed more than a hundred Filipino Muslims who were arrested on Friday and they even captured the Malaysian police chief and his colleagues,” Alim Hashim Mudjahab, chairman of the Islamic Council Committee of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), had said.
Hernandez said Monday that DFA Secretary Albert Del Rosario had met anew with Malaysian Ambassador Mohammad Zamri bin Mohammad Kassim to convey the Philippines’ request for the Malaysian authorities to exercise maximum tolerance in dealing with the sultan’s followers.
He also reiterated the government’s request that the Malaysian authorities give a full briefing of the operations conducted against Kiram’s group and that a Philippine Navy ship, BRP Tagbanua be allowed to dock and provide humanitarian, medical, and consular assistance to Filipinos there.
“The loss of lives in Sabah is deeply regrettable, we offer our profound condolences to the families of victims of this unfortunate incident,” Hernandez said.
Del Rosario left for Kuala Lumpur Monday afternoon to personally hand over the requests of the Philippine government to his counterpart in Malaysia, Foreign Minister Anifah Aman.
Hernandez said that Del Rosario and Aman would “continue discussions on how to avert further loss of lives.”