Kiram calls for truce in Sabah-A A +A
Thursday, March 7, 2013
MANILA (2nd Update) -- Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III on Thursday called for a unilateral ceasefire in the standoff in Malaysia-controlled Sabah.
In a press conference in Taguig City, Sulu sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani told reporters that Kiram called the ceasefire at 12:30 p.m. to heed the call of the United Nations for an end to the bloodshed.
"The Sultan is calling for a unilateral ceasefire of the Sultanate of Sulu effective this hour 12:30 p.m. in order to reciprocate the call of the United Nations to preserve lives," Idjirani said.
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday voiced concern over the situation in Sabah, urging an end to the three-week violence.
"The Secretary-General is closely following the situation in Sabah, Malaysia. He urges an end to the violence and encourages dialogue among all the parties for a peaceful resolution of the situation," said a statement released here by Ban's spokesperson.
Idjirani added Kiram hoped that Malaysia will reciprocate his call for ceasefire as he advised his followers to "initiate evasive and defensive caution."
The Malaysian authorities have been in a standoff for three weeks with the group of about 180 Filipinos, including some heavily armed men, who claimed to be the Royal Army of the Sulu Sultanate in southern Philippines and arrived in Sabah in early February in an attempt to claim territorial rights to the land.
Violence erupted last week with a deadly shootout between Kiram's armed followers and the Malaysian forces. On Tuesday Malaysian security forces launched a massive campaign to flush out the armed Filipinos. Twenty-seven have died in the shootouts and related violence.
In the statement, Ban also expressed concern about "the impact this situation may have on the civilian population, including migrants in the region" and urged all parties to "facilitate delivery of humanitarian assistance and act in full respect of international human rights norms and standards."
The alleged massacre of at least 40 Filipino civilians in Lahab Datu, Sabah, on Wednesday also led Kiram to call for a ceasefire, Idjirani added. (Sunnex/with PNA)