Lahad Datu stand-off: Clock ticking for armed group

LAHAD DATU - The clock is ticking away for the Sulu armed group holed up at the Tanduo village as the Sunday deadline draws near with no sign of them giving up peacefully.

Reports emerged that the group by Raja Muda Azzumudie, the brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III was running short of food supplies with the Malaysian security forces maintaining a tight sea and land cordon around them.

The earlier Friday deadline was extended by 48-hours after the Philippines government requested for a four-day extension till Tuesday on the grounds that Manila was trying to persuade the Sulu group to give up their stand.

Azzumudie was reportedly in contact with Sultan Kiram who has told the group to stay put at the village till the Sabah claim demands were discussed but to avoid violence.

According to the Philippine Inquirer quoting Abraham Idjirani, secretary general of the self-proclaim Sultanate of Sulu, Azzumudie talked with Jamalul and him on Saturday, telling them they were eating root crops and vegetables found in the village.

He said the group had been told to remain calm and keep their muzzles of their riffles down to signify that they had no hostile intent.

As of Saturday, Idjirani said Jamalul's orders to the Azzumuddie remained unchanged that they hold their ground at Tanduo village.

Except for one villager identified as Pakcik Umrah, the remaining families from 15 homes fled Tanduo from the day the Sulu group landed on Feb 9.

Both the Malaysian and Philippines government are trying to resolve the standoff that has entered its third week.

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