10 dead, 4 wounded in Sabah - Sultan
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – At least 10 Filipinos were killed in Sabah when Malaysian security forces attacked the Sultan of Sulu's followers holed up in Lahad Datu, Sulu Sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani said.
He told a press conference 4 were also wounded in the incident.
Malaysia however said only 3 were killed, including two members of its security forces. (Read: Malaysia says 3 killed in assault)
The Palace went as far as initially denying a firefight took place. "Ang report po sa amin ay wala hong casualty, wala hong engkwentro (According to reports we received, there was no casualty and there was no encounter)," Valte told PTV program News at One. (Read more about Valte's denial here.)
Idjirani said that among the casualties is a woman, and that Malaysian security sent snipers to raid the area. "Dapat harapan, hindi sniping," he said.
In a statement, Malaysian Primer Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak called on the the Sultan's followers to leave. "The group must realize that what they are doing is a serious offense and I hope they will accept the offer to leave peacefully as soon as possible," he told reporters as quoted by the Star of Malaysia.
The Prime Minister also gave assurances that Malaysia will protect the people of Sabah and fight for its sovereignty.
Malaysia also denied firing the first shot.
Citing Malaysian authorities, the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed the firing of gunshots in Sabah, and said it has left no casualties and has already stopped. DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez however could not confirm if there was an actual exchange of fire.
Dayang-dayang Fatime Celia Kiram, wife of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, told reporters that their communication with the Sabah group was cut off. "Maybe that's because they're burying the dead," Kiram said. She called on the government to stop the assault. "Where is your patriotism? Other Filipinos in other countries are being hurt. Why is government defending the enemy? (Interior Secretary) Mar Roxas is the spokesperson of the Malaysians, sad to say." – with reports from Jerald Uy/Rappler.com