Abu Sayyaf demands US$11 million for Chinese hostage

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Suspected Abu Sayyaf kidnappers are demanding a ransom of $US11.2 million for a Chinese tourist kidnapped from a resort off the Malaysian coast last week.

Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi said the gunmen want 36.4 million ringgit ($US11.2 million) for tourist Gao Hua Yuan, who was abducted April 3 with a Filipina resort worker, a newspaper reported Thursday.

"We have received a note that the kidnappers have asked for 500 million pesos or 36.4 million ringgit... We have sent our team to discuss with the so-called reported middle person," Malaysia's The Star reported Zahid as saying.

He said no ransom demand had been received for the Filipina worker, Marcelita Dayawan, 40.

The 29-year-old tourist and worker were taken by gunmen, believed to be from an Abu Sayyaf group, in Singamata Resort in Sempurna, Sabah, Malaysia. 

They were bundled into a boat, which then sped off to an unidentified location.

Philippine and Malaysian forces have been searching for the gunmen and their hostages.

Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr., commander of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti-Kidnapping Task Force in Sulu, said they had deployed 88 policemen in the towns of Indanan, Patikul and Jolo in the Southern Philippines.

Jolo is considered an Abu Sayyaff stronghold.

He said they're expecting additional manpower from the Special Action Force and Marines in the coming days.

"We have also asked for the help of local Muslim leaders living near the shorelines to immediately inform us if they monitor possible movement of the kidnapping group with their victims," he said.

Violence has erupted again in the Philippines’ south, a week after a peace agreement was signed between the governments of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Military and police forces in the area have heightened security to thwart attacks or destabilization plots by Muslim militant groups opposed to the agreement.

Abu Sayyaf is fighting for an Islamic state in the Southern Philippines area of Mindanao.

It has beheaded hostages in the past.

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