Published: Friday March 1, 2013 MYT 1:34:00 PM
Updated: Friday March 1, 2013 MYT 5:37:23 PM
Hisham: Deadline for Sulu gunmen to leave over (Update)
By REGINA LEE
KUALA LUMPUR: Negotiations with a group of armed Sulu gunmen are not over although the deadline for them to leave Sabah has passed, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (pix) said.
There are no more deadlines for the group to give up their weapons and return to the Philippines, Hishammuddin said, adding that the Malaysian government's patience has been wearing thin.
"The deadline has been extended so many times," he told reporters here Friday.
Hishammuddin refused to confirm or deny reports that a gunfight had broken out between security forces and the group of about 180 Sulu Sultan followers holed up in Tanduo village in Lahad Datu since Feb 9.
"I will not comment on the ground operations. That you will have to get from the Inspector General of Police or the Sabah police chief," he said.
"But what happens from now onwards, I hope no one will accuse the security forces of not giving space to the rebels to settle this peacefully," he said.
Despite being tight lipped about reports of the shooting, Hishammuddin said here have been no deaths on either side as of now.
"That I can confirm. No deaths," he said.
However, 15 minutes after the press conference had ended, Hishammuddin took to his Twitter account @hishammuddinh2o to confirm shooting had occurred at the village.
"Lahad Datu - I confirm that our security forces have not taken a single shot but were shot at, at 10am this morning! "Lahad Datu: The situation is under full control. (The gunmen) are still surrounded and the security forces have not returned fire. Together we pray!"
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