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Malaysia in Borneo standoff with armed intruders

Published on Feb 14, 2013 10:17 AM
In this photo taken on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels, who signed a peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996, man a checkpoint in Sulu province in southern Philippines, which has long been wracked by a Muslim separatist insurgency. Malaysian police chief Ismail Omar said armed intruders landed in Sabah’s largely rural, coastal district of Lahad Datu on Tuesday following “troubles in the southern Philippines.” --PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysia’s government said Thursday that its security forces have surrounded dozens of suspected Philippine militants in a remote area with a history of incursions by armed Filipino Islamic groups. 

About 80 to 100 gunmen have been cornered in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters. He said security forces were negotiating with the men near the small coastal town of Lahad Datu.

“We know the situation is still under control. I confirm that no Malaysian citizens, to my knowledge, are being held hostage or for ransom,” Mr Hishammuddin said. “Security forces are still in control and negotiating with them, some of whom are armed.”

He declined to confirm that the gunmen were from the adjacent southern Philippines. But asked whether Philippine authorities were involved in negotiations, Mr Hishammuddin said: “Of course they will have to be involved in the operations.”

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