Abu Sayyaf behind abduction of Pinay, Chinese in Sabah

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Friday, April 4, 2014

MANILA (Updated) -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed on Friday that the extremist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was behind the kidnapping of a Chinese tourist and a Filipina worker from a resort in Sabah.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, quoting AFP public affairs office chief Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala, said that Filipina Marcelita Dayawan, 40, and Chinese Gao Huayun, 29, were seized by seven fully armed men who sped toward the Philippine Sea after their attack.

"Initial available information obtained further stated that said abductors proceeded in vicinity of Simunul Municipality, Tawi-Tawi, eluding Malaysian authorities conducting pursuit operations," Lacierda said.

The bandits were believed to be followers of Murphy Ambang Ladia, alias Haji Gulam, a native of Pandami Island, Sulu, and a former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader who joined the breakaway group of MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari in 2001.

Ladia was also designated as the MBG Logistics and Transportation Officer of the MNLF but he later joined the ASG operating in Tawi-Tawi under ASG Binang Sahirol, said Lacierda.

He said Task Force 62 of the Western Mindanao Command is now conducting support operations to Regional Police Office of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Provincial Police Office of Tawi-Tawi to rescue the victims.

They are searching for the gunmen and their captives around Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces, said regional military spokeswoman Captain Rowena Muyuela.

The victims -- Dayawan and Gao -- were seized late Wednesday night from the Singamata Reef Resort near Semporna, Sabah. Dayawan worked as the resort receptionist, while Gao was in Sabah as a tourist.

China said its consulate in the Malaysian city of Kuching had mobilized staff to deal with the kidnapping and urged local authorities to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens.

The kidnapping Wednesday was a reminder of the security threats in Sabah, a popular tourist destination a short boat ride from the southern Philippines. (SDR/With AP/Sunnex)

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