MANILA, Philippines—Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III on Thursday called for a ceasefire with Malaysian forces in Sabah.
Kiram’s spokesman Abraham Idjirani said in a press conference in Taguig City that the unilateral ceasefire was declared by the sultan at 12:30 p.m. Thursday to “avoid more bloodshed in crimes”.
“The call for the unilateral ceasefire of His Royal highness Sultan Jamalul Kiram III is in view of the reported massacre committed by the Malaysian authorities against 40 innocent civilians in Lahad Datu yesterday (Wednesday)…,” Idjirani said reading the statement of Kiram.
“His Royal Highness, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III called his brother [Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram in Sabah] to initiate evasive and defensive posture. This is not only to his brother but including to those who volunteered and sacrificed their lives for the cause of Sultanate of Sulu,” Idjirani said.
Kiram was responding to a call by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday in which he urged an end to the violence and encourage dialogue between the opposing sides, he said.
Kiram urged Malaysia to reciprocate his camp’s truce declaration as he called on all parties to “facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance and act in full respect of international human rights norms and standards.”
Kiram sent his followers from their southern Philippine island homes across the Sulu Sea and into a remote region of neighboring Sabah on Borneo island to assert an ancestral claim.
At least 28 people, mostly militants, have been reported killed since the stand-off began more than three weeks ago.
Malaysia launched an air and ground attack Tuesday aimed at crushing the militants.
But the assault failed to eliminate the insurgents, and Malaysian security forces continued Thursday to scour the region of vast palm plantations and jungles for them.
The Sultan of Sulu once ruled over islands that are now parts of the southern Philippines, as well as Sabah.
However the sultanate lost control of Sabah to European colonial powers in the 18th Century. With Agence France-Presse