At least five Malaysian policemen have been killed by unidentified gunmen in a coastal town on Borneo island where a deadly government standoff with about 200 Filipino armed fighters continues, according to an official.
Two of the attackers were also killed in the shooting on Saturday night that occurred 150 km from the Lahad Datu district in eastern Sabah state.
On Friday, 14 other people were killed after members of a Philippine Muslim royal clan occupied a village last month to claim the territory as their own, according to national police chief Ismail Omar. Authorities were searching the area for more of the assailants.
Sabah Police Chief Hamza Taib told Malaysia’s TV3 station that the policemen were shot by a group of up to 10 suspects in Semporna town.
Authorities were investigating whether it was connected to the siege in Lahad Datu.
Malaysia’s biggest security crisis in recent years began when about 200 Filipinos landed in Lahad Datu on February 9, saying ownership documents from the late 1800s proved the territory was theirs.
They rejected repeated calls from both the Malaysian and Philippine governments for them to leave Sabah, a short boat ride from the restive provinces in the southern Philippines.
On Friday, Malaysian authorities clashed with the clan members, leaving 12 Filipinos and two Malaysian police commandos dead.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Saturday that the government would offer “no compromise, either they surrender or face the consequences if they refuse.”
Police dropped leaflets by helicopter over the occupied village on Saturday telling the Filipinos to give up, while the navy bolstered patrols in waters between Malaysia and the Philippines.
The Filipino group is led by a brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III of the southern Philippine province of Sulu.