KUALA LUMPUR: Kidnappers holding a Chinese tourist who was abducted from a resort on Malaysia’s Borneo island have made a phone call to her family in China, a senior security official said Sunday.
He said the gunmen have communicated with the family of Gao Huayuan, 29, whom Philippine security forces believe is being held in Jolo island in the southern Philippines.
“They have made telephone contact with her family,” Mohammad Mentek, director-general of the security command in the east of Malaysia’s Sabah state, told AFP.
The Abu Sayyaf, a small band of militants infamous for kidnapping for ransom, are the prime suspects in Wednesday’s abduction of the Chinese tourist and a Filipina resort worker, Marcy Dayawan, 40.
Mohammad said Malaysian authorities believe the two hostages are safe.
“We hope they will be returned safely to their families as soon as possible,” he said.
Mohammad declined to comment on whether the kidnappers had began ransom negotiations with the Chinese family.
Philippine authorities believe the kidnappers are affiliated with Abu Sayyaf “sub-commander” Murphy Ambang Ladjia, who was involved in a spectacular kidnapping of 21 people from another resort in Sabah, in the north of Borneo island, in 2000.
Twenty of those hostages, many of whom were Europeans or other foreign tourists, were released within five months, reportedly after hefty ransoms were paid. A final Filipino captive was held until 2003.