MANILA, Philippines – The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is believed to be behind the abduction of a Filipino hotel worker and a Chinese tourist in Malaysia, military sources said on Thursday, April 3.
The sources said the 6 men who carried out the abduction were former members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction of Nur Misuari but had since joined the ASG.
The two women were abducted by 6 armed men between 10:30 pm to 11:00 pm on Wednesday, April 2 at the Singamata Reef Resort in Sempurna, Malaysia.
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Gao Huayun, a 29-year-old tourist from Shanghai, China, is believed to have been abducted from her room and forced into a boat, according to a report from Malaysia's The Star.
It remains unknown how the Filipino, a 40-year-old hotel receptionist, was abducted. Rappler is withholding her identity until her family is officially informed.
Initial reports from the Philippine National Police say that the 2 women were believed to have been brought to Bakong Island in Tawi-tawi, in the southern Philippines.
Meanwhile, Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, spokesperson of the military Western Mindanao Command, said government forces were immediately mobilized and deployed in possible entry points to intercept the kidnappers.
"Our naval assets are now deployed in the area," Muyuela said.
The Abu Sayyaf gained notoriety in early 2000 for abducting 21 people from an island resort in Sipadan, Malaysia.
On April 23, 2000, the group abducted a Malaysian police officer, 2 Filipino resort workers, and 10 tourists from Europe, South Africa and the Middle East. They were only released 4 months later, upon the mediation of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi.
The group struck again in 2001, and abducted 21 local and foreign tourists in Dos Palmas resort in Palawan, including US missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham. – with reports from Karlos Manlupig/Rappler.com