6 March 2013
JAKARTA, March 6 (Xinhua) -- Indonesia has evacuated more than 600 of its citizens working in the palm oil plantation in Sabah of Malaysia as the stand-off between the Malaysian security force and the Philippine gunmen escalated and killed more than 14 people.
Indonesia also said it plans to displace more workers, local media reported Wednesday. About 8,000 Indonesians work at 52 plantation blocks in Sabah.
Indonesian Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said in Jakarta on Tuesday that he had coordinated with the foreign ministry to ask the Indonesian Consulate General and labor attaches to help the migrant workers and their family working in the palm oil plantation.
"I have instructed the labor attach and asked the consul general to have the Malaysian police and the plantation company evacuate all migrant workers and their families who have been trapped by the armed conflict which has lasted for more than two weeks. Most of the workers have been in safe areas located far from the conflict zone," he was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying.
"Personnel at border areas are all set to anticipate any measures regarding the process of returning the workers home," East Kalimantan police spokesman Antonius Wisnu Sutirta said.
The conflict between the Malaysian authorities and the armed Filipinos has continued with still no solution in sight.
While the violence has been contained so far to a small corner of Sabah, it signals that militants left out of a peace deal between Manila and the Philippines' main Muslim rebel group could be renewing their focus on the region.
The group comprising about 180 members say they are descendants of the sultanate of Sulu in the southern Philippines, which ruled parts of northern Borneo for centuries. They are demanding recognition and an increased payment from Malaysia for their claim as the rightful owners of Sabah.