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AFP hunts Abu Sayyaf captives

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is working double time to verify reports the two Malaysian nationals who were kidnapped by the terrorist Abu Sayyaf in Sandakan town in Sabah, Malaysia, last week have been transported to Sulu.

Abducted from the Ocean King Seafood Restaurant were Thien Nyuk Fun, 50, co-owner of the seaside restaurant, and Bernard Then Ted Fen, 39, a tourist from Sarawak, according to online reports.

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Malaysian authorities earlier said the kidnappers and their victims fled toward the Philippines on a motorized boat.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, chief of the AFP public affairs office, said the report posed a new challenge for the Philippine Army, which has been trying to rescue several foreign and local hostages in Sulu, including Dutchman Elwold Horn who was snatched in Tawi-Tawi in February 2012. Horn’s fellow wildlife photographer Lorenzo Vinciguerra was also kidnapped but escaped his captors last December.

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“We have heard various reports about them being brought to Sulu but we could not confirm it. We could not validate it as of this time,” Cabunoc said.

Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala, AFP spokesman, said there still was no proof of life received by the Malaysian intelligence units with regard to the reported hostages.

Rear Adm. Reynaldo Yoma, commander of Joint Task Force Zambasulta (Zamboanga-Basilan-Sulu-Tawi Tawi), said they were looking into reports the hostages were brought to Parang then transferred to Indanan, both in Sulu.

Meanwhile, a former policeman was arrested in Malaysia over the weekend for the abduction of an Australian national by the Abu Sayyaf in 2011.

SPO2 Jun Malban was taken into custody in Kota Kinabalu last month for violation of immigration laws but was arrested by Philippine authorities only last weekend.

Senior Supt. Roberto Fajardo, chief of the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG), said the former lawman served as a negotiator when Australian national Warren Rodwell was abducted in December 2011.–With a report from Kathrina Pineda

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TAGS: Abu Sayyaf, Bernard Then Ted Fen, Kidnapping, Malaysia, Military, Philippines, Sulu, Thien Nyuk Fun
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