ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 22, 2010) – Two Malaysian seaweed farm workers kidnapped in Sabah have been freed in the southern Filipino province of Tawi-Tawi, officials said Wednesday.
Officials said the duo - Tsen Vui Chung, 42, and his cousin Lai Wing Chau, 33, - were recovered in Bonggao town late Tuesday and were immediately flown to Manila by authorities.
Philippine police chief Raul Bacalzo also reported the release of the foreigners.
“They are freed,” Army Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a regional military spokesman, also said quoting military reports.
He said the pressure of government operations against the kidnappers contributed to the safe release of the foreigners. “The pressure of the operations contributed or played a big part for the release of the two Malaysians,” Cabangbang said.
Authorities did not say who was behind the kidnapping, but the captors who were believed to be members of the militant Abu Sayyaf group, demanded two million ringgits in exchange for the safe release of the hostages.
The duo was seized in February from their farm in the island of Pulau Sebangkit in Sabah and was taken to Tawi-Tawi province. Malaysian authorities initially said the kidnapping was connected to a labor dispute among workers in the seaweed farm and that the hostages are being held in Sabah.
The Abu Sayyaf had also kidnapped 21 mostly Western holidaymakers in Sabah’s resort island of Sipadan in 2001. The hostages were then ransomed off to Libya, which negotiated for their release, for millions of dollars. (Mindanao Examiner)