Friday, May 30, 2014

Malaysia/Philippines: Update--Shainghai Woman, Filipino Worker, 40, Kidnapped on April 2, Rescued

According to The Associated Press, Chinese tourist and a Filipino worker have been rescued nearly two months after they were abducted from a resort off Borneo island, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Friday (May 30).

The Prime Minister credited their release to cooperation between Malaysian and Philippine security forces, and said no ransom was paid.

Malaysian officials earlier said that the kidnappers had demanded a ransom of 500 million pesos ($11.4 million) for the Chinese hostage.

Gunmen, believed to be Abu Sayyaf militants, kidnapped the 28-year-old Shanghai woman and the 40-year-old Filipino woman from the Singamata Reef Resort in the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah on April 2. They were believed to have been taken to the southern Philippines.

"No ransom was paid to secure their release. Success due to cooperation of Malaysia and Philippines security forces. I thank all involved," Najib tweeted. He said authorities were working to return the Chinese woman to her home country as soon as possible.

COMMENT: There has been a spate of kidnappings in recent months off Sabah, a popular tourist destination and dive spot that is just a short boat ride from the southern Philippines, home to Muslim militants and kidnap gangs.

Last month, a Chinese fish farm manager in Sabah was kidnapped and was also believed to have been taken to the southern Philippines.

In November 2013, suspected Abu Sayyaf militants killed a Taiwanese tourist and kidnapped his wife from another Sabah resort. The woman was released a month later in the southern Philippines. Authorities didn't say whether a ransom was paid.

The Sabah government announced measures last month to tighten security, including a curfew and travel restrictions in high-risk areas.

Abu Sayyaf has links to international terrorist networks, including al-Qaeda, but a US-backed Philippine military crackdown has neutralized the group considerably in recent years. 

The group has an estimated 300 fighters that now focuses primarily on ransom kidnappings rather than regional  jihad. 

Read more here: