KOTA KINABALU: A suspected accomplice of the kidnap-for-ransom group has been detained by the Philippines police.
Tawi Tawi police chief Colonel Joey Salido said the suspect from the Sitangkai area was detained on suspicion of being part of the group on Tuesday but was released due to lack of conclusive evidence.
“We believe that the suspect who lives at our border islands was in cahoots with the kidnap-for-ransom gang. We took his picture and fingerprints before he was released on Thursday,” Col Salido said when contacted by The Star yesterday.
The latest efforts by the Philippines to track down cross-border kidnap groups follow the abduction of 32-year-old fish farm operator Chan Sai Chuin and a Filipino farm worker Maslan, 20, on Monday.
However, Col Salido said checks by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Sitangkai and Sibutu islands close to the border of Sabah’s Semporna had failed to locate the gunmen and their hostages.
On Wednesday, sources in Sabah said Chan’s wife Chin Pek Nyen, 42, had received a call from the gunmen informing her that they were holding her husband and she was allowed to talk to him briefly.
Initial indication by the sources was that there was no immediate demand for ransom. Yesterday, however, it was rumoured that they had made a RM12mil demand to his family for his freedom.
Senior Sabah police and the Eastern Sabah Security Command could not be reached to verify this.
Initial demands for ransom are usually high before negotiators move in to work out an agreeable and realistic price.
The sources had earlier told The Star that they believe Chan was unharmed and was now in the notorious Abu Sayyaf hideouts in Jolo after they sneaked into the area within 48 hours of the kidnapping.
It still cannot be ascertained if Maslan is with them as he was believed to have escaped by jumping off the gunmen’s boat following the kidnapping at the fish farm in waters off Kg Sapang about 60km from Lahad Datu.
The kidnap-for-ransom group normally sells its hostages to different Abu Sayyaf groups who then negotiate with their families for their release. Most kidnap victims are usually released unharmed.
An Abu Sayyaf group is still holding a Chinese national Yang Zai Lin, 34, who was snatched by Filipino gunmen from the Wonderful Terrace Fish Farm in Lahad Datu waters on May 6.
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