Navy joins search for Malaysia kidnap victims

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: Philippine police remain silent over reports that a Chinese woman and a Filipina resort worker kidnapped from a resort in Sabah, Malaysia are being held captive in the southern island of Sulu.

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Malaysia has tagged an Abu Sayyaf group responsible for previous ransom kidnappings in Sabah as behind the ab–duction of Chinese holiday–maker Gao Huayun, 29, and Filipina Marcy Dayawan, 40, from Singamata Adventures and Reef Resort in the town of Semporna in Sabah on April 2.

The duo is allegedly being held in a jungle lair by the Abu Sayyaf militants, a group linked to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya and blamed for the spate of terrorism and kidnappings in      the Philippines.

The victims were first taken by their captors led by Murphy Ladja to the Filipino province of Tawi-Tawi and then by boat to Sulu where they were turned over to another Abu Sayyaf group under Alhabsi Misaya in Mount Taran in Sulu’s Indanan town.

Other reports said a Filipino woman, Sugar Diane Buenviaje, is also being held captive by Misaya’s group. The 33-year old woman, whose family owns Cagayan Enterprises and General Merchandise, was kidnapped in Tawi-Tawi’s Mapun town in February. Misaya was also tagged in the series of bombings in Sulu in recent years.

Director Geneneral Datuk Mohammad Mentek of the Eastern Sabah Security Command said the Chinese woman and the Filipina resort worker are being held by Abu Sayyaf militants who were also involved in the 2000 kidnappings of 21 mostly European holiday–makers and Asian workers at the Pulau Sipadan resort; and also in the kidnapping in November of a Taiwanese woman on Pom Pom Island, according to a report by Malaysia’s online newspaper The Star.

Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamid said the kidnappers have demanded a P500-million ransom in exchange for the safe release of the Chinese woman, whose photograph was sent by her captors to her family.

Sulu police chief Supt. Ab–raham Orbita declined to confirm nor deny the reports. “Let’s keep silent about that,” he told The Manila Times.

The military’s Western Min–danao Command said the navy has joined the search for the victims. “We are exerting efforts to search and locate the kid–napped victims in probable areas in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi where they could have been brought. Naval Task Force 62 is now conducting extensive search while other units in the area have been on high alert,” Marine Capt. Maria Rowena Myuela, a spokes–woman for the Western Minda–nao Command, said.

The Abu Sayyaf was largely blamed for the daring raid on the posh Pulau Sipadan resort in 2000 where they kidnapped 21 people and ransomed them off to Malaysia and Libya for at least $25 million.

In November, the Abu Sayyaf kidnapped Taiwanese tourist Chang An Wei, 58, after killing her husband Hsu Li Min, 57, in a daring cross-border raid on Sabah’s Pom Pom Island.  The woman was eventually released a month later near the village of Liban in Talipao town in Sulu after paying ransom. The Abu Sayyaf has resorted to ransom kidnappings to raise money for the purchase of weapons and to fund terror attacks in the Philippines.

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