KOTA KINABALU: Kidnapped marine police constable Zakiah Aleip, who is held in Jolo, southern Philippines, is in good health, says Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman.
Jalaluddin said their information indicated that the 26-year-old policeman was healthy, dismissing claim in the Philippines that Zakiah was suffering from malaria.
"We know his condition. But we need to reconnect with the gunmen (holding him)," he said when asked about a claim by Jolo-based anti kidnapping activist Prof Octavio Dinompo that Zakiah was down with malaria.
Jalaluddin said the contact was temporarily disconnected because of a recent operation by Philippines security forces that forced the Abu Sayyaf group holding Zakiah to move deeper into the jungle.
He said that they were working for Zakiah’s release and as part of the effort, they need to reduce the communication between the captors and Zakiah’s wife and other irrelevant individuals who the gunmen had contacted.
Jalaluddin added that Zakiah had spoken to his wife Sharifah Erna Berson about a month ago.
"But we do not want too many people talking different things or getting involved,” he said in apparent reference to talk that the gunmen had contacted a number of individuals who have sent mixed signals to the abductors.
"We will deal directly to the person-in-charge (abductors) and are putting in place our strategy to secure Zakiah's freedom through negotiations,” he said.
Zakiah was abducted from Pulau Mabul in Semporna while his colleague marine police Sjn Ab Rajah Jamuan, 32, was killed in the July 12 incident last year.
Jalaluddin said they had worked towards getting Zakiah to be freed together with Kunak fish farm operator Chan Sai Chuin, 32, who was released on Dec 10.
“They (Zakiah and Chan) were supposed to come out together but there was an operation carried out by the Philippines security forces at the kidnappers’ hideouts forcing the group holding Zakiah to move deeper into the jungle in Jolo Island,” he said.
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