Sultanate of Sulu & North Borneo Crowned Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram and his Royal Guard in Lahad Datu, Sabah (North Borneo) photo: ABN news
Violence erupted in Sabah after Malaysian security forces on Friday morning started firing at a group of Filipinos holed up in a village in Sabah, the brother of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III said.
"Nagbabarilan na! Oo, nagbabarilan na!" said Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram, brother of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, in an interview aired on dzRH. (Gun shots have been fired! Yes, there have been gun shots!), the leader of the group in Sabah, said "Biglang pumasok sa amin (They suddenly came in), they were being shot so we had to defend ourselves,"
Kiram said the exchange of gunshots has wounded one of their men. "We appeal to the Filipino people, the Tausugs, the (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) to back us up," Kiram told dzRH.
The radio station, through its Twitter account, noted gunshots heard during the interview.
Asked what time the Malaysian forces moved in, Raja said, "oras na ito (at this time)."
Sounds of shots were heard in the background while the interview was being conducted. The interview was cut, however.
The group, which claimed Sabah is their homeland, had landed in Sabah on February 9 and engaged Malaysian forces in a standoff.
Malaysian forces blocked off their food and water supplies but until Friday did not fire on them while waiting for a peaceful resolution to the situation.
On Thursday, Malaysia's The Star online reported the group of armed Filipinos coped with the blockade by living off houses abandoned by local villagers.
However, the report on Thursday said the Filipinos claimed they were "all fine" despite the land and sea blockade by Malaysian security forces.
Call for prayers
In Manila, Kiram's spokesman Abe Idjirani appealed for prayers for a peaceful solution.
Idjirani said the first shot "was done by Malaysian police authorities."
The group and the police had been separated by a 300-meter distance, he said.
In a separate interview on ANC, Sulu Sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani confirmed the first shot came from the Malaysian police at around 6 am. He could not confirm injuries due to gunfire, describing initial reports as "sketchy."
Idjirani, however, said they have "apprehensions" about seeking the Philippine government's intercession to end the standoff, especially given the violence.
"Wala pa kaming naiisip na paraan kasi in the previous days, lagi hong sinasabi ng Malacanang na walang sisihan, huwag n'yo kaming sisihin, kung ano mang mangyari ngayon," he said. (We have not yet thought of any means because in the previous days, Malacanang has said we should not blame them for whatever happens.)
Idjirani, however, said the Malaysian police have withdrawn from the area.