Earlier today, two police personnel were killed and three others injured during the clash between Malaysian armed forces and Sulu gunmen in Tanduo village near Lahad Datu, Sabah after a 23-day standoff.
A few weeks ago, 150 men dressed in military attire and armed had encroached into Malaysian waters and landed in the village. The group identified themselves as the Royal army of the Sulu Sultanate, headed by Agbimuddin Kiram. Agbimuddin reportedly refused to leave the area after taking control of the area for more than three weeks by making several demands. Malaysia and the Philippines officials have had numerous negotiations with the group ever since but were futile.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that early today, the armed Philippino group had ventured 1.5km from their holed up area and opened fire at the Malaysian security forces.
Regarding the shootout, he said:
I am very sad over the incident because what we had wanted to prevent, which is bloodshed, had actually happened. Now there is no grace period for the group to leave. I have given the full mandate to the ground commanders, namely the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar and the Armed Forces Chief Tan Sri Zulkefli Mohd Zin to take necessary action deemed necessary.
Meanwhile, Sabah police commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib told reporters that 12 Sulu gunmen were killed in the clash between Malaysian General Operations Force members and the gunmen. The number of injured among the Sulu group is unknown.
The atmosphere in Lahad Datu remains tense as many shops are closed while residents living in the area remained indoors for the fear of the situation. A curfew has also been imposed in Lahad Datu town and the surrounding areas from 4pm today following the clash.
Late Saturday, another clash took place in the town of Semporna following the previous deadly standoff. Five Malaysian policemen and two gunmen died in the shootout. This bring to six the number of policemen whose lives were lost in the ambush by the Sulu gunmen.
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