Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sulu militants said to have set up guerilla base in Sabah

Handout file photo of Malaysian troops on patrol to flush out the militants in Sabah.

The followers of the sultanate of Sulu have set up a guerilla base in the hinterlands of Sabah after eluding Malaysian authorities for several weeks.

The Philippine Star reported, citing sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani, that the Malaysian military and police knew about the base but could not pinpoint the exact location because the jungle in the area is vast.

It reported Idjirani as saying yesterday that the new stronghold was in a strategic location with enough sources of food and water, and with adequate shelter for nearly 500 men.

The base was reported to Idjirani during a conversation the other day with Agbimuddin Kiram, the sultanate-appointed rebel leader now hiding in Sabah.

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The newspaper cited a source from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) as saying the base was its former camp where a cache of high-powered weapons was kept at the height of the Mindanao uprising in the early ‘70s.

The source said the base was established by MNLF fighters who joined the group in Lahad Datu to press their claim over Sabah.

The Philippine Star also reported that Idjirani said the sultanates fighters would continue to adopt defensive position and would not initiate any attack on the Malaysian forces.

The Malaysian military and police have stopped the operation against the armed group. The last encounter took place last April 9.

Aside from the 400 new arrivals from Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi, Tausugs based in Lahad Datu and Semporna have also joined the sultanate army in Sabah, it reported.

Agbimuddin and his men have been mounting a guerilla fight that has killed eight Malaysian policemen and two soldiers since landing in a remote village near Lahad Datu on February 9.

Malaysian security forces retaliated, killing more than 60 of the rebels and detaining over 100 more. Some 20 are on trial on war charges.

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