Some 100 heavily armed men have joined the followers of Agbimuddin Kiram in Sabah to continue fighting Malaysian forces in Lahad Datu, sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani said yesterday.
Idjirani said Agbimuddin, brother of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III called him up to report that some heavily armed civilians have joined the fighting in Sabah.
Idjirani said the civilians managed to slip through the sea blockade of the Malaysian and Philippine navy forces in going to Sabah.
“(Agbimuddin) called me about the arrival of civilians with arms who have joined the royal security forces,” Idjirani said.
It was not known where the armed civilians came from but sources said some are Tausugs from various parts of Mindanao who arrived in small groups to avoid the Malaysian and Philippine naval blockade at the Sulu Sea.
Heavy fighting was reported in Lahad Datu yesterday where Malaysian troops are conducting mopping-up operations to flush out the remaining members of Kiram’s forces.
Idjirani also reported that relatives of Kiram who are long-time residents of Sabah went into hiding after Malaysian police began its crackdown on suspected supporters of the sultan’s army.
“The relatives of sultan are now living in fear and have gone into hiding,” he said.
DFA visits 8 accused of terrorism
Last Thursday, Philippine embassy officials in Kuala Lumpur were allowed to visit eight men facing charges for terrorism-related violence for their involvement in the Sabah incident.
Philippine Ambassador to Kuala Lumpur Eduardo Malaya, in a statement, identified the eight as Atik Hussin Bin Abu Bakar, Basad H. Manuel, Habil Bin Suhali, Holland Bin Kalbi, Thimhar Hadil Sultan, Lin Bin Mad Salleh, Kadir Bin Uyung and Lating Bin Tiong.
Malaya did not say if the eight, detained at the prison facility in Tawau, are Filipinos. The Sulu sultanate had earlier said the eight are Malaysians.
He said it is the “standing policy” of the government “to provide appropriate consular assistance to nationals in distress, whether or not we agree with their acts or advocacies... We would like to ensure that their rights as accused are respected and that they have legal representation when court sessions resume on April 12 as promised by Malaysia authorities.”
Malaya said the embassy team, led by First Secretary and Consul Antonina Mendoza-Oblena and director Renato Villa, talked to the eight and asked them about their prison conditions. The team also asked the accused about their places of origin and respective families.
The eight were the first to face charges since about 200 followers of the Sulu sultan assembled at the coastal town of Lahad Datu last month to press ownership over Sabah.
The embassy said it may be difficult to extend consular assistance to the sultan’s brother Agbimuddin. Malaysian Defense Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi said Agbimuddin is a Malaysian citizen who worked as a civil servant in Sabah.