The standoff in Lahad Datu, Sabah between the followers of Sultan Jumalul Kiram III and his brother Agbimuddin and Malaysian security forces took a turn for the worse last March 1 when the two armed factions engaged in a firefight. The gun battle resulted in the death of twelve Filipinos and two Malaysians.
In a statement issued March 2, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said he phoned Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to say that “the time to consider the group’s demands had lapsed and that they (Kiram’s followers) had the option of surrendering or facing the action of the authorities and security forces.” In reaction to Razak’s hardline tone, Aquino reiterated his appeal to Kiram’s followers for them to surrender without any conditions. Kiram, for his part, rebuffed both Aquino and Razak.
The Sultan’s followers are said to be armed with “M16 and M14 rifles…
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