KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – At least 14 people were killed Friday (March 1st) during a shootout between Malaysian security forces and followers of self-described Philippine sultan Jamalul Kiram III, who claimed an area on the island of Borneo 17 days ago, AFP reported.
Hamza Taib, police chief in the state of Sabah, said 12 of the dead were Filipinos – the other two were Malaysian security personnel. Hamza said the encounter began when the Filipinos, as many as 300 of them, fired at security forces who were tightening their cordon around the group. "The intruders fired at us, then we returned fire," he said.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak expressed regret over the bloodshed but said he had authorised police and armed forces to do what was needed to end the impasse.
"We deeply regret the loss of life. Our priority since this began was to resolve this peacefully. We have maintained that this action of the Kirams was not the correct way to assert their claims," Philippine President Benigno Aquino's office said in a statement.