Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Malaysia to Move Villagers from Area of Fighting ; Scores Have Been Killed after Coastal Strip Was Invaded by Filipinos

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Malaysia to Move Villagers from Area of Fighting ; Scores Have Been Killed after Coastal Strip Was Invaded by Filipinos

Article excerpt

The Malaysian authorities will resettle people out of remote coastal areas near the southern Philippines amid ongoing fighting that has killed more than 70 people, officials said Monday.

The Malaysian authorities will resettle people out of remote coastal areas near the southern Philippines amid ongoing fighting that has killed more than 70 people, officials said Monday.

The plan is in response to a mid-February incursion into the Malaysian state of Sabah by about 200 gunmen who claimed to be a royal militia seeking to re-establish an ancient claim on the area by the Philippine-based Sultanate of Sulu.

The decision to resettle was made "after realizing that the vulnerability of several settlements to the easy entry of illegal immigrants and stateless persons was the primary cause of the Sulu terrorist intrusion," stated a report from the Malaysian state news agency, Bernama.

The latest fighting took the lives of two adults and two children and wounded one more child, officials said. Fighting in Sabah has killed 74 people, including 9 members of Malaysia's security forces.

In response to the ongoing security situation, Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia announced Monday that people would be resettled away from the remote northeastern coast of Sabah, which is a short boat ride from the restive southern Philippines. He said other parts of Sabah might also need resettlement programs, Bernama reported.

"The need for safety is now more pressing in the east," he was quoted as saying.

The most recent violence took place about 9:30 a.m. Sunday when two people suspected of being members of the Filipino group being pursued by soldiers fled into a house and opened fire, said Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, the Malaysian chief of defense forces.

"The gun battle went on for several minutes," he was quoted as saying by Bernama. …

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