World Bulletin / News Desk
A Filipino clan leader who occupied a Malaysian village in the island of Sabah with nearly 200 followers has said the Malaysian police opened fired at them, reportedly killing at least 10 of its members.
Raja Muda Abimuddin Kiram, the leader of the armed group, told Al Jazeera's Jamela Alindogan that authorities fired at them in an apparent bid to end the three-week standoff that threatened to complicate the relations between the two countries.
Malaysian state news agency Bernama said that two police commandoes had been killed in a mortar attack and two wounded after security forces tried to force out the group of at least 100 Filipinos who have been holed up in eastern Sabah state for more than two weeks.
The Philippines only confirmed one death among the group, saying that 10 had surrendered while the rest had fled towards the sea.
Both governments had urged the group to return home and Malaysia PM Najib was quoted by Bernama on Friday as saying that patience had run out.
"Do not test our patience, our patience has reached the limit," he was quoted as saying.
"We have a plan to remove them, they should have surrendered and left," said Najib, who must call national elections by April and has come under pressure from the opposition for allowing the bizarre standoff to drag on.
Raul Hernandez, spokesman for the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, cited Malaysia's ambassador to Manila as saying the standoff was over.
The confrontation had threatened to reignite tension between the Philippines and Malaysia, whose ties have been periodically frayed by security and migration problems along their sea border.
Malaysia's The Star newspaper reported that at least two gunmen had been killed and three police officers wounded.
A hospital in Sandakan, about 90 km (55 miles) from the site of the standoff in Lahad Datu, told Reuters it was preparing to receive three wounded police officers.
The leader of the group earlier told Philippine radio they had been surrounded by Malaysian police, who have warned in recent days that a deadline for them to leave had passed.
The armed group is demanding recognition from Malaysia and renegotiation of the original terms of a lease on Sabah by the Sultanate to a British trading company in the 19th century. Malaysian officials have said the group's demands would not be met.Last Mod: 01 Mart 2013, 11:33