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Sulu Sultanate says royal army 'general' still alive

MANILA, Philippines - The Sultanate of Sulu on Wednesday said the reported death of 23 members of the Royal Sulu Army in Sabah needs to be verified as it reported that Haji Abdullah Musa, a top commander of the royal army, is still alive contrary to claims by Malysian authorities.

Abraham Idjirani, spokesman for the Sultanate, said the commander of the Sulu Royal Army Agbimuddin Kiram called him up at 6:19 a.m. and reported that Musa was able to regroup with the main force.

Idjirani said the forces of the Royal Sulu Army were separated during the recent bombardments launched by the Malaysian security forces.

"Naghiwalay nga sila after the bombardment ng Malaysian forces, they split up to better evade the pursuing security forces," he said.

A report by the Malaysian Sun Daily said Musa, described as a "general" of the Royal Sulu Army, was killed along with 31 other royal fighters in a firefight with Malaysian security forces on Thursday last week.

Idjirani said they will wait for a confirmation to be made by Raja Muda Kiram on the reported 23 fatalities from his army.

According to Idjirani, Raja Muda Kiram has asked for three days to account for the members of his force who are now still re-grouping with the main force.

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