Number of refugees nears 3,000 in northern Borneo standoff
Kuala Lumpur - Nearly 3,000 people have fled their homes as Malaysian troops widened their hunt for a Philippine sultan's followers who intruded into the eastern state of Sabah last month to claim the land, a police source said Monday.
The refugees came from eight villages in Lahad Datu, 1,600 kilometres east of Kuala Lumpur, which was the centre of military operations since March 1, he said.
"The evacuees are housed in three evacuation centres," the source who requested anonymity said. "We have enough food and medicine to take care of them." He said most schools in Lahad Datu opened Monday except those in areas where the police and military operations were being conducted.
"Shops are all open for business," he said. "Of course, people are still worried about the conflict. We really hope this will end soon." The crisis started February 12 when more than 200 followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III set up camp in the village of Tanduo in Lahad Datu to assert their ancestral claim to Sabah.//DPA