KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 – Philippine police blocked today nearly 70 supporters of the Kiram clan from slipping out of Mindanao to Sabah’s east coast to aid a rebel group under fire from Malaysian security forces, the Philippines Star newspaper reported.
Tawi-Tawi provincial police chief Joselito Salido was reported saying 67 unarmed followers of self-styled Sulu sultan Jamalul Kiram III from the archipelago’s Muslim-dominant areas in Basilan and Sulu, had earlier grouped in Bonggao town and were ready to ship out to the north Borneo Malaysian state.
“We negotiated and talked with them not to reconsider their plans as this will only contribute to the problem,” Salido was quoted as saying.
He added that Tawi-Tawi provincial police had been ordered to keep a watch on more militants attempting to sail out to back the Kiram camp in Sabah led by Jamalul’s younger brother, Agbimuddin Kiram.
Malaysia had launched an all-out attack against the Filipino militants at 7am today in an attempt to smoke out Agbimuddin’s forces who have been entrenched in the Lahad Datu area since entering Sabah on February 9.
But the Filipino gunmen reportedly escaped the bombing, according to Philippine media network ABS-CBN’s radio report this afternoon, citing Sulu spokesman Abraham Idjirani who said he had received a text message from Agbimuddin.