MANILA, March 7 (Xinhua) -- The Sulu Sultan has unilaterally declared a ceasefire in the Sabah standoff, the local media reported Thursday.
Abraham Idjirani, spokesperson of self-proclaimed Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, said in Thursday's briefing that Kiram has unilaterally declared a ceasefire to "avoid more bloodshed and crimes" against Filipinos living in the eastern Malaysian state, according to a report filed by online news site www.rappler.com.
He said the followers of the sultan won't take any action and will stay wherever they are now.
The declaration of the ceasefire came hours after United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged an end to the violent standoff in Sabah.
According to statement issued by his spokesperson, Ban Ki-moon is "closely following the situation" in Sabah and urges "an end to the violence and encourages dialogue among all the parties for a peaceful resolution of the situation."
On Wednesday, Malaysian Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced in Kuala Lumpur that they had recovered the bodies of 13 men of Agbimuddin Kiram, the sultan's brother, who led the group of around 200, some of them armed, in occupying the village of Tanduao in Lahad Datu.
After Tuesday's massive air and ground assault by Malaysian forces at the village of Tanduao where the so-called "Royal Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu" have encamped, a total of 40 have been killed, eight of them Malaysian policemen and the rest Kiram's followers.
The standoff pushed Filipino civilians living in Sabah to flee to southern Philippines to avoid the conflict.