Azzimudie Kiram, who led the Sabah invasion in 2013, dies of cardiac arrest

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The man, who led the 2013 invasion by nearly 200 armed men to "reclaim" the state of Sabah from Malaysia on behalf of the defunct Sulu Sultanate, has died.

Raja Muda Azzimudie Kiram, 74, died of a cardiac arrest in his home at the Tubig Indangan village in Tawi Tawi province in southern Philippines on Tuesday, Filipino intelligence sources have confirmed.

Azzimudie, the younger brother of self-styled Sulu sultan Jamalul Kiram III, had landed in Kampung Tanduo in eastern Sabah on Feb 9, 2013 with armed militants in dinghies from southern Philippines, to press ancestral claims on the land.

He had justified the claims by saying that Malaysia is reportedly still paying an annual "rent" of RM5,300 (S$2,100) to the Philippines for Sabah under a lease made during British rule. Analysts said the payment was a gesture of goodwill and not a recognition of the Philippines' claim of sovereignty over Sabah.

Malaysian security forces then tried to negotiate the surrender of the invaders for a week before launching air strikes and mobilising ground troops in which 73 intruders and eight soldiers were killed.

Many intruders were arrested and charged with various criminal offences, while Azzimudie had disappeared without a trace as Malaysian security forces recaptured Kampung Tanduo.