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MANILA, Philippines – The small fishing village of Tanduo in Lahad Datu has been cleared of “intruders” a month after a group of Filipinos occupied the settlement to assert their historical claim over Sabah, police announced on Monday, March 11.
“The security forces are now focused on fighting invaders in Tanjung Batu and other areas,” said Sabah police commissioner Hamza Taib.
Hamza said his men had found the bodies of 22 gunmen, bringing the total of confirmed casualties to 44 militants and 8 police officers.
Malaysia earlier said that the figure of “terrorists” killed is at least 54, including a teenager whose identity has not yet been determined.
Hamza added that a total of 97 people have been arrested for being involved in the standoff and 122 others for entering the exclusion zone established in the area.
In the same Bernama report, the Sabah police chief denied alleged human rights violations committed by Malaysian security forces against Filipino civilians.
Hamza also clarified that standoff leader Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram had not escaped a raid in Semporna and said he is still being hunted down inside the exclusion zone. – with reports from Carlos Santamaria/Rappler.com