10,000 more Suluks have joined battle for Sabah, MNLF official claims
KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 – Thousands of Tausug, also known as the Suluks, have sailed to Sabah to help their fellow Filipino militants in eastern Sabah who have reportedly gone into hiding following the heavy assault by Malaysian forces since morning, The Philippine Inquirer reported today.
The claim, made by Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Islamic council committee chairman Habib Hashim Mudjahab, contradicts reports elsewhere that security forces in both Malaysia and Philippines have blocked off entry points into the beleaguered Lahad Datu township, where the militants are holed up.
“We can no longer prevent our people. We are hurt and many of our people, even the non-combatants, are going to Sabah to help the sultanate,” Mudjahab was quoted as saying in the report.
But the Inquirer also reported denials of any such reinforcements being sent into Sabah from Lt. Gen, Rey Ardo, chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, and acting Governor Mujib Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Both men said they are not aware of any reinforcements sent to aid the self-proclaimed royal army of the Sulu Sultanate.
According to Mudjahab, however, at least 10,000 Tausugs from Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga had left Philippine waters from last night in small batches, entering Sabah through what they call the “southern backdoor” – a route that regular traders are familiar with.
The MNLF official said the naval blockade was of no use as those who know the route well would be able to slip into the east Malaysian state easily, and without raising any suspicion.
“It is about pride and honor, and our people are ready to sacrifice,” he added.
Earlier today, the MNLF chief Nur Misuari denied at a press conference any involvement in the Sulu standoff in Sabah, which is still raging on as Malaysian forces scour the length and breadth of Lahad Datu in search of the gunmen.