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DAVAO CITY, Philippines- At least 400 armed men from Mindanao arrived in Sabah to help the Royal Security Force (RSF) of the sultanate of Sulu who are faced with a full military offensive by Malaysian authorities, a member of the sultanate said on Tuesday, April 9.
Princess Jacel Kiram, daughter of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, said these men volunteered to pursue the fight not just for the Sabah claim but also for Filipinos who allegedly continue to suffer from human rights abuses there.
“These are not members of the RSF. They volunteered to fight,” Kiram said.
Kiram said the reinforcements reached Lahad Datu in two batches — on March 20 and April 5.
Kiram’s claim could not be independently confirmed at this time.
There have been no reports from Malaysian media about this arrival – a contingent that is twice the number of RSF members, estimated to be about 200, that first sailed to Lahad Datu in February.
On April 1, Malaysia activated the Eastern Sabah Security Command, a body tasked to watch the 1,400-km coastline of Sabah villages Lahad Datu, Kudat, Tawau, Kunak, and Sandakan.
After violence erupted between the Sabah claimants and Malaysian authorities in Lahad Datu, Malaysian security forces launched a crackdown on RSF members in Sabah — setting up checkpoints and arresting those without proper documents. This caused a mass evacuation of Filipinos over fears of getting caught in between the conflict.
Sabah evacuees recounted stories of human rights abuses against Filipinos, especially against Tausugs.
At least 70 people have been killed since violence erupted in Lahad Datu, according to Malaysian authorities. As of April 7, a total of 135 individuals have been arrested under the Security Offences Act of 2012, state news agency Bernama reported.
Over 6,600 Filipinos have fled Sabah as of April 6. – Rappler.com