Philippines did all it could to prevent Sabah violence
MANILA (AFP) - President Benigno Aquino's spokesman said on Tuesday the Philippines had done all it could to avoid a violent end to a stand-off in Sabah, as Malaysia launched an assault on Filipino gunmen there.
A total of 27 people have been reported killed in clashes since the followers of Jamalul Kiram III, an heir to the Sultan of Sulu, landed there on Feb 12 by boat.
"We've done everything we could to prevent this, but in the end, Kiram's people chose this path," Aquino spokesman Ricky Carandang said of the gunmen, who are claiming the state for a now defunct Filipino Muslim sultanate.
A Malaysian government spokesman in Sabah said on Tuesday an operation was underway to clear out the remainder of the gunmen, holed up in the village of Tanduo.