A standoff between over 200 armed Filipinos and Malaysian police in the state of Sabah ended in violence on March 1, as the Filipinos continue to demand that Malaysia return portions of the state to them — against the wishes of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III.
According to the AFP, Sabah state police chief Hamza Taib said that in addition to two police officers, who were killed in the shooting, "three were injured and... 12 intruders died"after attempting to evict the Filipino armed group from the remote village they had been occupying.
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The Filipinos claim that the Malaysians fired first, while the Malaysian claim that the Filipinos breached a perimeter established by Malaysian police, provoking them to fire, according to the New York Times.
74-year-old separatist leader Jamalul Kiram III claims that he is the head of the Islamic Sultanate of Sulu, and argues that he and his followers have the right to take back the region of Borneo that they've occupied, citing 18th century documents, wrote the Asia Times.
“These are your people, and it behooves you to recall them,” said Aquino to Kiram on Feb 26, according to the New York Times.
“It must be clear to you that this small group of people will not succeed in addressing your grievances, and that there is no way that force can achieve your aims.”