A Shanghai tourist and a Filipino hotel employee who were kidnapped from a Malaysian resort earlier this month have been relocated to a jungle in the southern Philippines by their abductors, according to the Associated Press.
Philippines officials who spoke to AP on terms of anonymity said that the women are now being held by Abu Sayyaf gunmen in their jungle stronghold in the province of Sulu, where extremists have been holding several other foreign and Filipino hostages ransom.
The 29-year-old tourist from Shanghai, Gao Huayun, and 40-year-old hotel receptionist Marcy Dayawan were taken by a group of gunmen and dragged onto a boat from the Singamata Reef Resort in Malaysia’s Sabah state on April 2.
Previously officials thought that the kidnappers had taken the women to Simunul island in the province of Tawi Tawi, but searches there yielded nothing. Marine spokesman Capt. Ryan Lacuesta said that a new search is underway in Sulu.
Two weeks ago, Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said they had recieved a note from kidnappers demanding a ransom of 11.2 million USD for Gao’s return. No ransom was asked for Dayawan’s return.
The Abu Sayyaf has links to international militant networks, including al-Qaida. The group is believed to have been involved in another Sabah resort abduction back in 2000.