FIRE....Soldiers fire a machine gun near Sungai Nyamuk in Lahad Datu March 12, 2013.
By : CLARA CHOOI
KUALA LUMPUR : The Kiram family today disputed claims that Malaysian forces have killed 'Commander Haji Musa', a former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) commander who is one of the Sulu group’s top general.
Sulu Sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani told Philippine media network ABS-CBN News that he had spoken with group leader Agbimuddin Kiram, who confirmed that Musa was still alive, contrary to reports here.
“He is still alive and they have regrouped at 1am Wednesday. They are drinking coffee. The Malaysian news report is wrong,” Idjirani said, according to the network’s report online.
The spokesman also disputed figures from Malaysian authorities on the number of Sulu deaths, claiming that only 23 members of the group have been killed so far.
According to figures from local police, 56 Sulu militants have fallen since attacks kicked off on March 1.
National news agency reported yesterday that in the most recent gun battle between security forces and the rebel group, two Sulu gunmen were killed, raising the Sulu death toll to 56.
To date, 10 Malaysians have been killed, including eight policemen and two soldiers. Another teenage boy, whose identity is still unknown, was also shot in the crossfire during the Ops Daulat operation.
Agbimuddin, the brother of self-styled “Sultan” Jamalul Kiram III, landed in Lahad Datu, Sabah, on February 9 with a group of 235 gunmen to lay the Sultanate’s claim over the north Borneo territory.
After attempts at peaceful negotiation by the Malaysian and Philippine government failed, security forces here moved in on the gunmen, who were holed up in Kampung Tanduo in the coastal district.
Ops Daulat was launched last Tuesday and two days later, the Kiram clan called for a ceasefire but refused to pull its army from Lahad Datu.
In response, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak rejected the request, telling the gunmen to surrender unconditionally instead or face death.
Earlier today, Sabah police chief Comm Datuk Hamza Taib admitted that the security forces have yet to apprehend Agbimuddin, despite nine days of intense mopping up under Ops Daulat.
But police believe that the self-proclaimed “crown prince” of the Sulu Sultanate, who led over 200 gunmen to lay claim over Sabah last month, was still hiding within the Ops Daulat operation area, The Star Online reported.
“As a leader, he will not run and leave his people by themselves here. He must lead them,” Hamza was quoted saying in the report. (TMI)