News / Asia

Malaysian Troops, Fighter Jets Attack Filipino Group in Borneo

Villagers carry the body of a dead gunmen that was killed on Saturday, Simunul village in Sabah's Semporna district, March 4, 2013.
Villagers carry the body of a dead gunmen that was killed on Saturday, Simunul village in Sabah's Semporna district, March 4, 2013.
VOA News
Malaysia has sent fighter jets and troops to secure an area of Borneo Island, where an armed Filipino group is engaged in a bloody standoff with the government over a decades-old territorial claim.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a statement that every effort has been made to peacefully resolve the issue, but that the Tuesday raid was necessary "to safeguard the dignity and sovereignty" of Malaysia.

The dispute began in mid-February when around 200 members of the armed group stormed a seaside village and demanded to be recognized as the ancestral owners of the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah.

A shootout erupted Friday leaving 12 intruders and two policemen dead.  Since then 19 more gunmen and eight police officers have been killed.

Malaysian fighter jets pounded the area for about 30 minutes on Tuesday, before hundreds of soldiers were sent to the area. It is unclear whether the raid succeeded in clearing the area.

Abraham Idjirani, a spokesperson for the Filipino group, said its leaders had survived the bombardment. He said some were scared, but insisted they would not surrender.

"The truth is, some are scared. Who wouldn't be, given the odds? Two-hundred eleven, against 100,000 plus," he said. "As Malaysian forces fire their guns, in sacrificing their own lives in order to kill them, they [the Filipino group] will get crushed."

The militants belong to the Sultanate of Sulu, a former Islamic power that once controlled parts of Borneo and the southern Philippines. Although the sultanate lost power about a century ago, the group still claims sovereignty over the area, which it says was illegally merged with Malaysia when it gained independence from Britain.

The conflict is Malaysia's worst security crisis in years, and threatens to damage ties with the Philippines.

  • Police search two men who came out of Tanjung Labian, a village near where Malaysian troops stormed the camp of an armed Philippine group, March 6, 2013.
  • Malaysian police monitor the delivery of goods to a grocery store in Felda Sahabat near where Malaysian troops stormed the camp of an armed Philippine group, March 6, 2013.
  • Philippine Muslim women carry torches a rally south of Manila to call for a peaceful resolution to the fighting between Malaysian forces and a Philippine armed group in Borneo, March 6, 2013.
  • Philippine Muslim protesters shout slogans against the military assault launched by Malaysian forces in Borneo during a rally at the Malaysian Embassy east of Manila, Philippines, March 5, 2013.
  • Riot police guard the Malaysian Embassy east of Manila following a protest against Malaysia's military assault on a Philippine armed group on Borneo Island, March 5, 2013.
  • Coffins of Malaysian police who were killed on Saturday in Semporna in Sabah state, are carried after their arrival at an airport in Subang, outside Kuala Lumpur, March 4, 2013.
  • Philippine residents who fled Malaysia's Sabah state arrive with their belongings in the southern Philippines, March 4, 2013.
  • Philippine residents who fled the Malaysian state of Sabah arrive with their belongings at the port of Jolo, in the southern Philippines, March 4, 2013.

Manila has urged the group to stop the conflict and return home, warning its members could face prosecution. But it has also urged Malaysia to exercise restraint and not to harm the interests of the estimated 800,000 Filipinos in eastern Sabah state.

James Chin, a Malaysia analyst with Australia's Monash University, says he does not think the issue will severely disrupt Philippines-Malaysia relations. But he also casts doubt on whether the current military action will solve the dispute.

"This is an historical issue, so the solution will have to be political in nature," he said. "The military action now is being done to stop this group, which is using a military means to stake their claims. The idea behind the military action is simply to round up the people with guns and weapons, but it's not going to stop the issue."

On Tuesday, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario was in Kuala Lumpur for talks with his Malaysian counterpart on the situation.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: fadzil eb from: kota kinabalu
March 05, 2013 8:11 AM
This so called sultan have the nerves to claim sabah after all the hard work has been done.If he is honest he shud hav stay on the tawi2 island and help it progress bcoz there are to many shortcomings,lacks of baisc ammenities such as clean water,roads etc but no he opted to stay in the comfort of manila while the rest of the population survive on day to day survival.He shud take a leaf from tuanku datu mudarasail kiram
who work hard to uplift the economic lives of the islanders

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid