Philippines calls for peaceful solution to Borneo stand-off
AFPLAHAD DATU, Malaysia--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.
February 17, 2013, 11:36 am TWN
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 the neighboring Philippines on Tuesday.
Police say 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 spokeswoman Abigail Valte said Saturday the safety of the Filipinos was the government's main concern as Malaysian armed forces and police have locked down the area.
“The primary concern now is their safety and to resolve the incident peacefully,” Valte said in a radio interview in Manila.