Kidnapped women taken to Sulu
MANILA, Philippines—Two women kidnapped by suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits from a dive resort in eastern Malaysia—a Chinese tourist and a Filipino hotel receptionist—are believed to have been brought to a jungle lair in the southern Philippines, security officials said Friday.
The officials said that based on numerous intelligence reports and accounts from villagers, the two women were now being held by Abu Sayyaf gunmen in Sulu, where the extremists have been holding several other foreign and Filipino hostages for ransom.
The three officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters about the abductions.
Abu Sayyaf bandits kidnapped the 28-year-old Shanghai woman and 40-year-old Filipino from the Singamata Reef Resort in the Malaysian state of Sabah on April 2, then took them by motorboat to the southern Philippines early this month, the sources said.
Sabah, which has many tourist resorts, is just a short boat ride from the Philippines, where many militants and kidnap gangs operate.
Military officials initially reported that the kidnappers and their captives may have been taken to Simunul island in the southernmost province of Tawi-Tawi. But a search in the remote region yielded nothing.
Marine spokesperson Capt. Ryan Lacuesta said a new search was underway by government forces in Sulu but refused to divulge other details.
Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamid said two weeks ago that the kidnappers were demanding a ransom of P500 million for the release of the Chinese tourist. No ransom was asked for the Filipino woman, he said.
Malaysian police have been coordinating with their Philippine counterparts to deal with the kidnapping, the latest the Abu Sayyaf has staged in Malaysia. In 2000, Abu Sayyaf gunmen snatched 21 European tourists and Malaysian and Filipino workers from Malaysia’s Sipadan diving resort. The hostages were transported to Sulu, where they were released in exchange for huge ransom. AP
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