KUALA LUMPUR, March 12 (KUNA) -- Clashes renewed Tuesday between the
Malaysian army and a Filipino militant group in the eastern province of Sabah.
Thousands of the Malaysian troops engaged with the militants in Lahad Datu
district in the province, some 1,600 km to the east of Kuala Lumpur, which
resulted in four deaths, said Commander of the Malaysian Armed Forces Gen.
Gen. Datuk Zulkifli Zainal Abidin.
The fatalities took to 67 the death toll of the conflict which erupted in
early February when some 200 members of a Filipino Muslim clan landed at a
coastal village in Sabah province claiming possession of the territory.
The militants, calling themselves the Royal Army of Sulu, claim to be
descendants of the Sultanate of Sulu in the southern Philippines which ruled
for centuries parts of northern Borneo, an island divided among three
countries - Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia.
They are followers of Sultan Jamalul D. Kiram III, ruler of Sulu since 1984.
In 1878 the Sultanate of Sulu leased Sabah province to the British North
Borneo Co. which ceded the territory to Malaysia.
Kuala Lumpur has, in turn, to pay in annual rent of USD 1,680 to Sultan
Jamalul D. Kiram III who seeks to get a higher rent rate. (end)
KUNA 122227 Mar 13NNNN