Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia is sending hundreds of troops to Borneo state after 26 people, including 8 policemen, were killed in clashes with an armed group of a Filipino royal Muslim clan which is holed up in a village in Sabah.
Eighteen Filipino armed men have been killed in the clashes with Malaysian security forces since last Friday while eight policemen have lost their lives in the two clashes - seen as one of Malaysia's worst ever security crisis.
Teams of police are combing through a seaside settlement in Semporna in Sabah to determine if any gunmen had escaped following an ambush on Saturday which claimed the lives of six policemen and six Filipino gunmen.
Sabah Police Commissioner Hamza Taib today said that CID teams were also determining the type of weapons used by the gunmen. He said police had estimated that not more than 10 gunmen were involved in the incident that was linked to a standoff with the armed Sulu group at Kampung Tanduo.
He said Malaysian police was collaborating with the armed forces military operations against an armed Sulu group holed up at Kampung Tanduo.
At least 200 armed men, claiming to be supporters of a former Muslim royal from Sulu province in southern Philippines, stealthily entered Malaysia's coastal village in eastern Sabah state's Lahad Datu district last month and occupied the area saying it belonged to the erstwhile ruler.
The Philippine government has been asking the group to return to the Philippines.
Army reinforcements from other states in Malaysia were being deployed to Sabah. "The situation is under control now," Hamza said.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak has said that security forces were authorized to "take any action deemed necessary."