MANILA, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government is set to dispatch Sunday night a "humanitarian mission" ship to fetch and ferry back the women and other civilians among the 180-member group who are holed out in Lahad Datu, Malaysia, a senior government official said Sunday.
The ship sailed from Bongao, Tawi-Tawi province, to the village of Tanduo in Lahad Datu, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said.
"We sent the ship to Lahad Datu on a humanitarian mission. We are deeply concerned about the presence of five women and other civilians in the group, and we urge them to board the ship without delay and return home," he said.
The ship is being prepositioned offshore Lahad Datu while talks with the group are underway, he explained.
There are reportedly some 180 individuals in the group, including some 30 armed escorts, who have been holed up in the area for almost two weeks already.