Malaysia sends more troops to Borneo-A A +A
Monday, March 4, 2013
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia is sending hundreds of soldiers to a Borneo state to help neutralize armed Filipino intruders who have killed eight policemen in the country's bloodiest security emergency in years.
Nineteen Filipino gunmen have been slain since Friday in skirmishes that shocked Malaysians unaccustomed to such violence in their country, which borders restive southern provinces in the Philippines and Thailand.
The main group of intruders comprises nearly 200 members of a Philippine Muslim clan, some bearing rifles, who slipped past naval patrols last month, landed at a remote Malaysian coastal village and insisted the territory was theirs.
Public attention focused Monday on how to minimize casualties while apprehending the trespassers surrounded by security forces as well as an undetermined number of other armed Filipinos suspected to have encroached on two other districts.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has ordered the intelligence authorities to investigate a claim that an opposition leader had a hand in the armed intrusion in Lahad Datu, Sabah.
He said the allegation was a serious matter but there must be strong evidence to identify the mastermind.
Najib said he was puzzled as to why the armed men came to Sabah at a time when the country was about to hold a general election when the Sulu Sultanate had laid claim to Sabah a long time ago.
"All avenues must be investigated. (Philippine) President (Benigno S.) Aquino (III) also wants to know the truth. The whole episode is a major embarrassment for the Philippine government," Najib said.
"They do not wish to see their citizens involved in aggression, violence, use of weapons and killing of our people," he told reporters Monday.
The prime minister was commenting on foreign media reports that an opposition leader had a hand in the intrusion by the group claiming to be the royal army of the Sulu Sultanate.
Najib said President Aquino also directed his intelligence agencies to investigate and find out the truth behind the incident.
“It (the allegation) has to be supported by evidence. Photographs and circumstantial evidence. We do need solid evidence to know who are really behind this. As I said why all this (all of a) sudden. The timing (is) so nearly to the general election,” he said.
Najib said he believed that the group had a grand design to undermine the peace and stability that Sabah enjoyed.
Asked whether the current situation demanded a task force involving both the Malaysian and Philippine forces, Najib said: “We have to do (work) separately, but we can coordinate and exchange information.” (AP/Bernama News Agency/Sunnex)