MILF, BIFF mum over Sabah firefight

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/01 March)—Officials of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) kept mum Friday after skirmishes reportedly erupted between followers of the Sultanate of Sulu and the Malaysian forces in Lahad Datu, Sabah.

In a radio interview, Abraham Idjirani, the spokesperson for the Sultanate of Sulu, said the first shot was fired at 10:30 am Friday allegedly by Malaysian police commandos.

Idjirani said that 10 were killed while four others were injured on their side.

Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chairman, said in a text message that they “would not comment at this time.”

Two weeks ago, 200 armed followers of the Sultanate of Sulu occupied the coastal village of Lahad Datu to push the heirs’ claim on Sabah.

The BIFF, which broke away from the MILF, also declined to comment on the reported armed conflict as Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, the sultanate’s titular head, continue to push the heirs’ claim over Sabah.

BIFF spokesperson Abu Misry Mama said they are still waiting for their leadership to issue a stand on the matter.

Some members of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team declined to also comment regarding the Sabah standoff when asked yesterday by journalists during a turnover rite in an Army camp in Maguindanao.

Acting ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, in an interview also yesterday, said that he tried but failed to convince the Kiram family to resolve the matter peacefully.

He said that for about a week, he talked and negotiated with the Kirams, upon the instruction of President Benigno Aquino, for their supporters to withdraw from Lahad Datu.

In a February 26 statement, Aquino said the government has sent a number of emissaries to the Kiram family to ask them to convince the group in Lahad Datu to return home peacefully.

“In fact, there is a humanitarian ship with social workers and medical officers on board nearby to facilitate the peaceful departure of those in Lahad Datu,” he said.

Aquino said the Philippine relations with Malaysia have always been colored by the issue of Sabah—an issue that has persisted for over half a century.

“This issue is complex: from the basis of our claim, to the question of the rightful heirs, and even involving the translation of documents from an era when our grandparents weren’t even born,” Aquino said.

Aquino said then that Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario “had already reached an agreement with Datuk Seri Anifah Aman that this issue should be resolved in a peaceful manner.” (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2013/03/01/milf-biff-mum-over-sabah-firefight/

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