DAVAO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – A relative of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III was killed allegedly by Malaysian authorities in Sabah, Princess Jacel Kiram said.
Princess Jacel Kiram told Rappler that Ustadz Jamjam Sali, uncle of the sultan, was accosted and then killed in Lahad Datu last Sunday, March 24. (Editor's note: We earlier said Sali is a cousin of Sultan Kiram. We regret the error.)
“Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram called us yesterday afternoon to inform us about the incident,” Kiram said.
Still, it is not yet clear how Sali was killed or if he was armed during the incident.
Kiram said Sali has been a resident of Sabah since the 1990s.
Sultanate of Sulu spokesperson Abraham Idjirani also confirmed the news.
“Dapat hindi idinadamay ang mga [kamag-anak na] hindi naman sumali sa [Sulu Sultanate Royal] Army (They should leave the Sultan's relatives who didn't join the Sulu Sultanate Royal Army,” Idjirani said.
The spokesperson quoted Agbimuddin as saying that Malaysian authorities arrested at least 20 of the sultan's relatives.
Idjirani added that they will form a legal team comprising of private lawyers to provide assistance to the detained Filipinos in Sabah.
“Wala naman kaming pera (We don't have money), so these are volunteers,” he said.
Idjirani also said that the sultan will not hold press briefings until next week in deference to Catholics’ observance of Holy Week.
Despite the tension in Sabah, the Kirams are still optimistic for peaceful resolution to the issue.
Armed followers of Kiram, a self-styled Philippine sultan, landed in Sabah 6 weeks ago to claim the state for their leader.
The incursion and a Malaysian counter-assault have left more than 70 dead -- mostly invaders -- according to authorities.
At least 2,631 Filipinos have fled Sabah as of March 13 due to the fighting and amid fears of a crackdown. – with a report from Jerald Uy / Rappler.com