Zamboanga attack: Malaysia goes on security alert

Combat police forces check their comrade who was hit by sniper fire of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) during an encounter in downtown Zamboanga City, southern Philippines September 9, 2013.

KOTA KINABALU - Malaysia has gone into security alert along its sea borders with southern Philippines following Moro rebels attack on Zambonga city.

The security alert in Sabah was to check on possible spill over of the trouble that broke out in the southern Philippines on Monday morning.

About 400 armed men of a break away Moro National Liberations Front (MNLF) group launched an attack on Zamboanga City, about 460km away from Sandakan in the east coast of Sabah.

According to latest reports, the Moro rebels claimed it has captured seven villages and has asked the Indonesian embassy to intervene in the on-going encounter.

The reports stated that at least one Filipino cop has been killed, several injured and some 30 people held as "human shields" with Malacanang condemning the attack.

Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) director general Datuk Mohammad told The Star Online that the military was taking measures to strengthen the sea borders

while monitoring developments of the fighting in Zamboanga.

"We have informed our security and defence to be on the alert and Esscom is also coordinating with security forces following the incident," he said

Sabah's close proximity to the southern Philippines raises fears that the rebels might flee towards Sabah in a bid to escape capture by pursuing Philippines forces.

MNLF led by Nur Misuari who was left out of last year's peace deal between Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has been restive and on Aug 13 had declared independence for the southern Philippines region which included Sabah.

Misuari, a former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor, claimed independence for Palawan, Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi and even North Borneo (Sabah) while stating that they did not want to be part of Philippines.

Many officials in Manila took lightly the ageing Misuari's declaration of independence as they saw it as a move to threaten the Philippines government to include MNLF as party to the Malaysia brokered peace process for Mindanoa.

They felt that Misuari did not have the support of enough Moro fighters to achieve his independence plan.

In 2001, Misuari was arrested by the Malaysian authorities when he entered Sabah and deported to Manila where he was placed under house arrest for a failed rebellion in Sulu and Zamboanga. He was later freed

MILF had broke away from MNLF following the 1996 peace agreement brokered by Indonesia and Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) for autonomous region of Mindanoa.