[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Philippines calls on fighters to leave Sabah

President Benigno Aquino III urges Royal Sulu Army to leave Malaysian state day after 12 killed in shootout.
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2013 12:41
Abraham Idjirani, the sultan's spokesperson, said the group would study the Philippine president's request [AFP]

Benigno Aquino III, the Philippine president, has urged members of a Muslim royal clan from the southern Philippines who occupied a village in Malaysian state of Sabah three weeks ago to surrender.

At least 10 members of the Royal Sulu Army - as they call themselves - were killed in a gun battle with Malaysian police on Friday. The armed group has asked for a temporary ceasefire to bury its dead.

About 200 members of the clan landed in the coastal village of Lahad Datu in Sabah on February 9 to claim the territory as their own, citing ownership documents from the late 1800s.

President Aquino said they should leave immediately or would face prosecution at home on charges of triggering an armed conflict, but the appeals have been ignored.

In a message to the group on Saturday, Aquino said the clan members should "surrender now without conditions".

"If you have grievances, the path you chose was wrong. The just and, indeed, the only correct thing for you to do is to surrender," Aquino said.

Meanwhile, the bodies of two Malaysian police officers killed in the cross fire have been returned to their families.

Hishammuddin Hussein, the Malaysian home minister and Ismail Omar, the national police chief, were in Sabah on Saturday to oversee security operations.

Omar also urged the Filipinos to turn themselves in, saying "we have no other options but to take the necessary action to detain them".

Malaysian officials declined to say when they might move in or to elaborate on their plans.

The Filipino group is led by a brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III of the southern Philippine province of Sulu.

Jacel Kiram, a daughter of the sultan, indicated that her uncle, Agbimuddin Kiram, who is still in Lahad Datu, would not surrender.

"The decision remains the same -- they will not return here because honor is above life,'' she told DZBB radio in Manila. "What is life without honour?''

Abraham Idjirani, a spokesman for the sultan, said he and the council of the sultanate still had to study Aquino's statement.

348

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Anti-government secrecy organisation struggling for relevance without Julian Assange at the helm.
After decades of overfishing, Japan is taking aim at increasing the number of bluefin tuna in the ocean.
Chinese scientists are designing a particle-smashing collider so massive it could encircle a city.
Critics say the government is going full-steam ahead on economic recovery at the expense of human rights.
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
join our mailing list