Philippines calls for peaceful solution to Borneo stand-off
LAHAD DATU (AFP) - The Philippines on Saturday called for a peaceful resolution to a tense stand-off between Malaysian forces and a group of gunmen claiming to be followers of the heir of a former Borneo sultan.
The group, estimated at 200 with dozens believed to be armed, landed by boat near the Borneo town of Lahad Datu in Malaysia's Sabah state from neighbouring Philippines on Tuesday.
Police said the group has declared itself followers of a former Philippine-based Islamic sultanate that once controlled parts of Borneo, including the standoff site, and is refusing to leave Malaysian territory.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Abigail Valte said on Saturday the safety of the Filipinos was the government's main concern as Malaysian armed forces and police have locked down the area.