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Malaysian Troops in Borneo as Philippines Urges Restraint

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Malaysia has sent hundreds of soldiers to secure an area of Borneo Island, after two deadly shootouts between a group of Muslim Filipino gunmen and police left 27 people dead in the country's worst security crisis in years.

In a parallel diplomatic effort, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario flew to Kuala Lumpur for talks with his Malaysian counterpart on the situation.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino also went on national television to urge Malaysia not to harm the interests of the estimated 800,000 Filipinos in eastern Sabah state.

The crisis began in mid-February when an estimated 200 members of a Philippine Muslim clan landed at a remote Malaysian coastal village in Sabah and claimed the territory as their own.

Nineteen gunmen and eight police officers have been killed since, including a shootout Friday that left 12 intruders and two policemen dead.

Groups of Filipino militants have occasionally crossed into Sabah to stage kidnappings. Malaysia has intensified patrols, but the long sea border with the Philippines is difficult to guard.

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FILE - President Barack Obama waves as he boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland en route to Southeast Asia, November 17, 2012.

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