Malaysia troops sent to Borneo after police slain
By Sean Yoong ,APKUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysia sent hundreds of soldiers to a Borneo state Monday to help neutralize armed Filipino intruders who have killed eight police officers in the country's bloodiest security emergency in years.
March 5, 2013, 12:35 am TWN
Nineteen Filipino gunmen have also been slain since Friday in skirmishes that shocked Malaysians unaccustomed to such violence in their country, which borders insurgency-plagued southern provinces in the Philippines and Thailand.
The main group of intruders comprises nearly 200 members of a Philippine Muslim clan, some bearing rifles, who slipped past naval patrols last month, landed at a remote Malaysian coastal village in eastern Sabah state's Lahad Datu district and insisted the territory was theirs.
Public attention focused Monday on how to minimize casualties while apprehending the trespassers, who are surrounded by security forces as well as an undetermined number of other armed Filipinos suspected to have encroached on two other districts within 300 kilometers (200 miles) of Lahad Datu.
Army reinforcements from other states in Malaysia were being deployed to Sabah and would help police bolster public confidence by patrolling various parts of the state's eastern seaboard, Sabah police chief Hamza Taib said.
“The situation is under control now,” Hamza said. “There will be cooperation” between the military and the police.
He declined to elaborate on specific strategies or on a call by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad for lethal action.
“There is no way out other than launching a counterattack to eliminate” the intruders, Malaysia's national news agency Bernama quoted Mahathir as saying Sunday. “Although many of them will be killed, this cannot be avoided because they had attacked Sabah, and not the other way round.”
Malaysia's current leader, Prime Minister Najib Razak, declared over the weekend that security forces were authorized to “take any action deemed necessary.”