KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia unleashed airstrikes and mortar attacks Tuesday on nearly 200 Filipinos occupying a Borneo coastal village but could not declare an immediate end to a three-week siege that has turned into a security nightmare for Malaysia and the Philippines.
The assault follows clashes in the last week that killed eight Malaysian police officers and 19 Filipino gunmen, including members of a Muslim clan that shocked Malaysia and the neighboring Philippines by slipping past naval patrols last month and storming the obscure village in Borneo’s eastern Sabah state.
The clansmen, armed with rifles and grenade launchers, had refused to leave the area, staking a long-dormant claim to Malaysia’s entire state of Sabah, which they insist is their ancestral birthright.
The crisis has sparked worries of a spread of instability in Sabah, which is rich in timber and oil resources. Other armed Filipinos are feared to have slipped into other districts in the area recently.
As dusk approached, many hours after fighter jets were deployed in the morning, national police chief Ismail Omar said police and military personnel were still hunting for Filipinos in an area of about 1.5 square miles that includes rough terrain.
‘‘We believe there are still enemies in the area,’’ Ismail said.