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Kiram's army safe after Sabah airstrike

In this March 4, 2013 photo, Malaysia Army commandos prepare to board a helicopter to join an assault near the area where the stand-off with Filipino gunmen took place in Tanduo village, Lahad Datu, Sabab, Malaysia. Malaysian security forces using fighter jets attacked nearly 200 Filipino intruders on Tuesday to end the armed group’s three-week violent occupation of a Borneo village that became the country’s biggest security crisis in years. - AP

The airstrike launched by Malaysian fighter jets in Lahad Datu, Sabah Tuesday missed  the forces of Agbimuddin Kiram, the spokesman for the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo said.

Spokesman Abraham Idjirani said Agbimuddin called him about 7:30 a.m. and then again at 9:30 a.m. and reported that forces of the Malaysian military and police commandos attacked a position that they had previously occupied.

Idjirani also said Agbimuddin reported that the fighter jets started circling Lahad Datu on Monday night.

“(He told) us that the Malaysian forces and the police commandos, about seven battalions,  attacked the place suspected of being Agbimuddin's camp,” he said.

Idjirani said the Malaysian jets bombed a position previously held by the forces of Agbimuddin but has now been occupied by Malaysian forces.

“Sabi niya (Raja Muda) may umaaligid ng jet fighter kagabi pa (Monday night). The bomb was dropped on the Malaysian’s area. Iyong area na iyon ay kung nasaan dati si Raja Muda,” said Idjirani.

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“Nakubkob na iyon ng Malaysian forces. So sila na ang nanoon. So sabi ni Raja Muda, bakit ganoon? Iyon ang pinagtataka namin,” he added.

Idjirani said the incident could have been a case of “friendly fire.”

Idjirani said  Agbimmudin  and his men are safe and are holed up in a place far  from the airstrikes.

“Hindi sila ang pinatatamaan. This could be a friendly fire incident,” Idjirani said.

Midnight meeting

As tension remains high in Lahad Datu, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario met on Monday with  Malaysian  government officials  in Kuala Lumpur to discuss a peaceful resolution on the issue.

A statement from the DFA said Del Rosario met with Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato Sri' Anifah Aman and Defense Minister Dato' Seri Dr. Ahmad Zamid Hamidi midnight Monday.

Also present during the meeting were Philippine Ambassador J. Eduardo Malaya, Malaysian Foreign Ministry Secretary Heneral Tan Sri Mohd Radzi Abdul Rahman and other embassy officials and the Malaysian Foreign and Defense ministries.

Del Rosario flew to Kuala Lumpur early evening Monday. 

A radio report meanwhile said Del Rosario has failed to convince the Malaysian government to exercise maximum tolerance in handling the Sabah standoff with the Sultanate of Sulu royal army.

Del Rosario was unable to persuade  Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Dato Sri' Anifah Aman and Defense Minister Dato Seri Ahmad Zamid Hamidi for a peaceful resolution on the Sabah situation.

Del Rosario held a meeting  with the Malaysian government officials up to 1 a.m. Tuesday to appeal for a for maximum tolerance to prevent bloodshed.

Malaysian security forces attacked anew the followers of the Sultanate of Sulu, led by Agbimuddin Kiram, around 7 a.m.

Del Rosario, however, refused to elaborate on the details of the meeting with the Malaysian government officials, the report said.

Del Rosario, who  will return to Manila to brief President Benigno Aquino III on the meeting, will again talk to Aman, the report added.

Meanwhile, the report said there has been no confirmation on information that several Filipino journalists covering the Sabah standoff have been detained by Malaysian authorities. - with Dennis Carcamo

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