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Five policemen killed in Malaysia's Sabah amid standoff


09:39, March 04, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, March 3 (Xinhua) -- At least 5 policemen were killed in an ambush in Malaysia's Sabah state as gunmen were spotted outside the village where standoff continues between security forces and Sulu gunmen, police said Sunday.

Police Inspector General Ismail Omar told a press conference that a police team was sent to a village of east coast town of Semporna after reports said an armed group was spotted there.

The team was ambushed on arrival, at least five policemen and two gunmen were killed during the shootout.

"I have ordered police present in the area, and the situation is under control, " Ismail said.

Earlier reports put the death toll at two.

Ismail told media that police were hunting down at least 10 intruders who believed to had infiltrated two villages in Kunak areas, located between Semporna and Lahad Datu where some 180 Royal Army of the Sulu Sultanate, have holed up in a village of Tanduo for three weeks.

Police were investigating whether the latest developments were linked to the Sulu gunmen, Ismail added.

Meanwhile, three were arrested when trying to slip through a security blockade near Tanduo village late Saturday, and Ismail stressed that the situation in all three areas is under control.

"Security processes are in place in all these places and all are under control," he said.

The east coast area of Sabah has been in a tense situation after a gunfight broke out between the security forces and the Sulu group Friday morning in which two police commandos and 12 gunmen were killed.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak urged the group to surrender or would face tough actions.

The Malaysian authorities have been in a standoff since three weeks ago with the group of about 180 Filipinos, including some heavily armed. They were followers of Philippine Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III based in the country's restive south. Kiram insisted Sabah was his home and that his Sulu sultanate once controlled parts of Borneo.

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