Kuala Lumpur: At least seven people, including Malaysian police officers, have died in fresh armed clash with gunmen in eastern Sabah state amid fears that Filipino followers of a self-proclaimed sultan have slipped into other coastal areas.
The policemen were killed when they were ambushed at a village in the east coast town of Semporna late last night, Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar said today.
He said two of the gunmen were killed in the shootout with the police team. Police have encircled the village to track down the remaining gunmen.
The shootout late last night in the town of came a day after 12 people including two Malaysian policemen were killed in clashes between security forces and Filipino followers of a self-proclaimed sultan.
Around 100 odd Filipinos, reportedly armed, have been surrounded by Malaysian security forces in Sabah after they landed by boat from southern Philippine province of Sulu, saying that the area belonged to the heir of a former regional sultanate.
Police are trying to establish if the latest incidents were connected to the stand-off at Kampung Tanduo at where the armed Sulu gunmen have been holed up for about three weeks.
Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman said Prime Minister Najb Razak had given his assurance that the safety and peace of Sabah would be the top priority, especially after the fresh clashes in Semporna last night.
Musa said Sabah police commissioner Hamza Taib and the army were also gearing up operations statewide.