$14m ransom for Chinese tourist
KIDNAPPERS based in the southern Philippines have demanded 500 million pesos (S$14 million) in ransom for a Chinese tourist abducted from a Malaysian dive resort, a senior minister said yesterday.
Malaysian Home Minister Zahid Hamidi said the family of Ms Gao Huayun, who was kidnapped by gunmen on April 2, along with a Filipino resort worker, are negotiating with her abductors through an intermediary.
"We have received a note that the kidnappers have asked for 500 million pesos or RM36.4 million as ransom.
"We have sent our team to discuss with the so-called reported middle person," he told reporters.
Mr Zahid added that there has been no ransom demand for the Filipino hostage.
Ms Gao, 29, and resort worker Marcy Dayawan, 40, were taken from the Singamata Reef Resort in Malaysia's Sabah state on Borneo island in a late-night raid by a group of gunmen.
The area is famed for its world-class scuba diving but also notorious for lawlessness and kidnappings blamed on bandits from the Muslim southern Philippines.
The Philippine military has said the Abu Sayyaf, a small band of Islamic militants infamous for kidnappings for ransom, is the prime suspect.
The abductors are believed to be affiliated with Abu Sayyaf "sub-commander" Murphy Ambang Ladjia, who was involved in the kidnapping of 21 people from another Sabah diving resort in 2000.
Malaysia said at the weekend that Ms Gao's family in China had been contacted by telephone by her kidnappers.
AFP, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK