KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, April 12 (UPI) -- Malaysian police announced that they had released 32 armed Filipinos arrested earlier this week.
Malaysian authorities detained the men on suspicions that they were attempting to enlist in an Islamic militant rebellion in the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo.
Sabah state police chief Hamza Taib told the media that the 32 Filipino nationals would be deported back to the Philippines after investigators concluded they had no link with the ongoing Sabah unrest.
Two months ago more than 200 armed followers of a self-styled sultan landed in Sabah state on Borneo as the cleric revived a centuries-old land claim to the long-defunct Sulu sultanate, once based in the southern Philippines. Since then ongoing clashes between the militants and security forces has killed at least 68 Filipinos and 10 Malaysian security personnel, ZeeNews news agency reported.
Hamza stated that police investigations had in fact determined that the 32 men, apprehended on a boat off Sabah armed with guns and machetes, were actually part of a team of campaigners for a mayoral election in the southern Philippines and whose boat had subsequently veered off course.