Malaysian troops have surrounded about 100 armed men believed to be from a breakaway rebel faction in the southern Philippines, Malaysian, reports GMA News. But a Philippine official said they were unarmed Filipinos who had been promised land. The standoff in Malaysia's eastern Sabah state threatened to stir tension between the Southeast Asian neighbors whose ties have been periodically frayed by security and migration problems caused by a porous sea border. Malaysian police said in the situation was "under control", but did not say whether the men had agreed with a request to surrender.
"We are dealing with 100 armed foreigners from the southern Philippines. The army and the police have cordoned off the place where these foreigners are waiting," a high-ranking Malaysian government source with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters.
He said the gunmen were suspected to be from a faction unhappy with the Philippines' recent peace deal with the main Muslim rebel group in southern Mindanao island.