ZAMBOANGA CITY: Extremist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) have freed a Malaysian restaurant executive on Sunday, but held on to a second Malaysian man as ransom negotiations continue for his release, reports said Monday.
Fifty-year old Thien Nyuk Fun was immediately whisked away on a speedboat by Malaysian negotiators and has returned to Sabah early on Monday six months after she was seized from her restaurant in Sandakan.
Reports reaching the PNP National Operation Center in Camp Crame said Thien was released by Abu Sayyaf leader Alhabsi Misaya to a group of Filipino and Malaysian negotiators at around 10pm Sunday in the vicinity of Sitio Pakasah in Brgy. Bud Taran, Indanan in Sulu.
The freed hostage, a seafood restaurant manager and another captive Sarawakian Bernard Then, 39, were kidnapped in Sandakan on May 14 when Abu Sayyaf gunmen raided the restaurant and brought them to Sulu.
The release of Thien came six weeks later after Abu Sayyaf rebels threatened to kill one of the hostages if their demand for ransom is not paid. It was unclear how much ransom had been paid for Thien’s freedom, but the Abu Sayyaf had earlier demanded P30 million pesos for their release.
Filipino troops continue its operation against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu. Just late in August, troops clashed with about 300 rebels in Patikul town during a failed rescue mission that left over a dozen soldiers and rebels wounded.
The rebels, led by Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, Muammar Askali, Almuktar Suddung, Namiel Ahajari, and Basaron Arok, managed to escape a huge military assault.
The Abu Sayyaf is still holding several foreign hostages, including two Canadians, a Norwegian, an Italian and Filipinos kidnapped from other places and brought to Sulu’s jungle.
WITH A REPORT FROM ANTHONY VARGAS