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Sulu forces won’t spoil Malaysia polls

The Sulu Sultanate claimed on Monday that it deployed 1,000 more fighters to augment its remaining 400 troops in Sabah, but at the same time made the assurance that the Sultanate’s troops had been ordered not to disrupt Malaysia’s parliamentary elections to be held on May 5. The reinforcement, which mostly came from Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi, slipped into Sabah despite the tight naval blockade being enforced by Malaysian and Philippine authorities. Abraham Idjirani, spokesman of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, said the reinforcement will join the remaining 400-strong men under the command of Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, the younger brother of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III. Idjirani, however, said the reinforcement has yet to make contact with Agbimuddin and added that operational plans will only be finalized once Agbimuddin has gotten in touch with the new arrivals. “Raja Muda said he was informed by a sympathizer that a group of 1,000 men, all armed, have landed in Sabah in separate groups. This is a big help to the RSF in order to contain the Malaysian security forces in the area,” Idjirani said. But instead of joining the 400-strong RSF now holed up in Lahad Datu, Idjirani said the reinforcement would break up into separate into groups and launch hit-and-run campaigns against the Malaysian forces. When asked if the fighters were from the Moro National Liberation Front, Idjirani said Agbimuddin would make the confirmation once he makes contact with the group. “We don’t know if they are MNLF but most of the fighters that arrive in Sabah usually change their identities. They’re no longer MNLF or MILF,” the sultanate spokesman said. Idjirani said more “reinforcements” will sail to Sabah in the coming weeks, indicating that the armed conflict in Sabah is far from over as claimed by the Malaysian government. The reported arrival of new reinforcements came even as Malaysian security forces have tightened security in Sabah to prevent more armed men from Mindanao to penetrate the disputed state as Malaysian election nears. In an article in Bernama, Malaysia’s state-run news agency, Defense Minister Datu Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the Malaysian Armed Forces and police are monitoring the Eastern Sabah Security Zone to deter possible new “waves” of intruders. Zahid also said the police and military will be present in voting district centers in Lahad Datu to ensure voters’ safety.
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