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Agbimuddin left Sabah on March 11, says armed forces chief

KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 – Malaysian security intelligence confirmed today that Sulu militant leader Agbimuddin Kiram fled Sabah after Day 7 of Ops Daulat and has been escaping capture by island hopping in southern Philippines.
Armed Forces chief General Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin (picture) said the self-proclaimed crown prince of the Sulu Sultanate left his army of over 200 gunmen in Lahad Datu on March 11, during the height of mopping-up operations by local security forces.
The elusive rebel leader has since been moving from island to island to seek shelter and has yet to be caught by the Philippine authorities, Zulkifeli was quoted saying in a report by national news agency Bernama.
“Azzimudie (Agbimuddin) is believed to have done so to avoid his location from being detected by the Moro people, and for fear that he will be arrested by the Philippine authorities,” he reportedly told a press conference this afternoon.
According to Bernama, Zulkifeli was reponding to allegations in the blog mymassa.blogspot.com that claimed Agbimuddin had been killed by his own guard and his body buried in a place only known by his followers.
The armed forces chief also reportedly said that it was out of the Malaysian military’s jurisdiction to spread its hunt for Agbimuddin to the Philippines, adding that any further action could only be taken by using the country’s bilateral ties.
Agbimuddin and his group of militants landed in Sabah on February 9 to stake the Sulu Sultanate’s claim over the north Borneo territory which it insists had been gifted to them in the 17th century by the Borneo Sultan.
After attempts at peaceful negotiation failed, Malaysian security forces moved in on the group of armed men who were holed up in Kampung Tanduo on March 1, resulting in the deaths of 20 Sulu gunmen.
Subsequent skirmishes saw eight Malaysian policemen killed.
On March 5, Ops Daulat was launched to flush out the militants by force, resulting in the confirmed deaths of 63 Filipino gunmen as of yesterday, eight policemen, two soldiers and an unidentified teenage boy.
The Malaysian authorities have also arrested 108 people under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), 268 under other Acts and charged eight Filipinos with waging war against the King, in relation to the armed incursion.


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