Philippines says 5,000 Filipinos have fled Sabah unrest
MANILA (AFP) - Almost 5,000 Filipinos have fled the Malaysian state of Sabah since security forces launched an offensive to root out Islamic invaders loyal to an obscure Philippine sultan, a government agency said on Saturday.
The Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said it had recorded 4,983 adults and children who had arrived in the south of the archipelago after fleeing Sabah due to the ongoing fighting.
Mr Paslur Abdullah, executive director of the government centre in charge of caring for the new arrivals, said the total was likely to be higher as many would have returned without registering.
"They arrive on small vessels. Some of them disembark without registering and they are met by relatives. We cannot detain them," he told AFP, adding that it was not known if any of the invaders were amongst those fleeing.