MANILA, Philippines - Malaysian security forces fired at the royal army of the Sultanate of Sulu on Friday morning, a spokesperson of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III said.
Sultan Kiram has denied an earlier report by radio dzMM that several people were killed during the attack.
Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez, spokesperson of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said that Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines Dato Mohd Zamri Mohd Kassim confirmed that gunshots were fired in Lahad Datu, where the royal army of the sultanate is holed up.
Hernandez said Kassim did not say which group fired the shots. He added that the ambassador also clarified that there were no casualties in the incident.
"There were no casualties and that the firing had already stopped," Hernandez said, quoting Kassim's report to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.
Abraham Idjirani, secretary general and spokesman to Sultan Kiram, also confirmed that the group Raja Muda (Crown Prince) Agbimuddin Kiram were fired at by Malaysian security forces before holding a briefing in Manila.
Idjirani said that the royal army called them up and informed the rising tension at about 6 a.m.
â€œThis morning is a history, the Malaysian security forces started the first shot,â€ Idjirani said.
Idjirani said that Agbimuddin was not sure if the first shot was aimed at their people.
He added that Agbiuddin also informed them earlier that the Malaysian authorities were already approaching their area.
â€œHowever, there was bit of respite and it was good that the Malaysian police have withdrawn later, according to Raja Muda,â€ Idjirani said.
He said the Malaysian forces came as close as 300 meters from where the more than 200 followers of the sultanate were holed up.
The sultanate official also appealed to the Malaysian government to reconsider its action stressing their people holed up in Lahad Datu have no intentions of creating trouble.
â€œHowever, if the Malaysian authorities will push for its action then the Sultanate followers there have no recourse but to defend themselves to their last breath,â€ Idjirani said. with reports from Jaime Laude and Camille Diola