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Filipino clan says Malaysian police shot at them

Friday - 3/1/2013, 12:00am  ET

Associated Press

MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- A Filipino clan leader who occupied a Malaysian village with nearly 200 followers said Malaysian police opened fire Friday in a bid to end the three-week standoff that threatened to complicate the two countries' relations.

Members of a Muslim royal clan from the southern Philippines landed in a coastal village in Malaysia's Sabah state on Feb. 9 to claim the territory as their own, citing ownership documents from the late 1800s. They ignored appeals from Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to leave immediately or face prosecution at home on charges of triggering armed conflict.

The leader of the group, Agbimuddin Kiram, told Philippine radio station DZBB in Manila that Malaysian police surrounding Lahad Datu village opened fire early Friday and that his group was fighting back. He said there were casualties on the Filipino side but did not provide details.

Malaysian police in Sabah refused to comment.

"They suddenly came in; we had to defend ourselves," Kiram said. Sounds of shots were heard in the background while he was being interviewed by phone. He said his plan was "to fight."

Philippine Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said that according to the Philippine police attach
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