Palace: Abu Sayyaf possibly behind Sabah abduction
Louis Bacani (The Philippine Star) - April 4, 2014 - 3:10pm

MANILA, Philippines - The abductors of a Filipina resort worker and a Chinese tourist in Sabah are suspected to be members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Malacañang announced on Friday.

Citing information from the military, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said seven fully-armed men believed to be from the ASG were behind the kidnapping at the Singamata Reef Resort in the Semporna district of Sabah on Wednesday.

"The abductors are believed to be of the group of Murphy Ambang Ladia, [also known as] Haji Gulam, a native of Pandami Island, Sulu," Lacierda said at a televised press briefing as he read the text message of military spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala.

He added that Ladia is a former leader of the Moro National Liberation Front.

"Subject [Ludia] later joined the ASG operating in Tawi-Tawi under ASG Binang Sahirol," Lacierda continued.

The Palace official said the suspected members of the bandit group immediately boarded a speed boat after the abduction and proceeded towards the Philippine Sea.

Initial available information obtained further stated that the abductors headed to the vicinity of Simunol Municipality in Tawi-Tawi, Lacierda said, eluding Malaysian authorities conducting pursuit operations.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) identified the kidnapped Filipino worker as 40-year-old Marcelita M. Dayawan.

The agency said officials of the Philippine Embassy in Malaysia are in touch with Dayawan’s relatives, who are being extended with consular assistance.

Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia J. Eduardo Malaya has also dispatched an embassy official to Sabah, according to the DFA.

"Philippine and Malaysian authorities are closely and actively working together towards the speedy resolution of the case," the DFA said. "We continue to hope and pray for the immediate resolution of this incident and the safe return of the victims to their families."

ABU SAYYAF GROUP BINANG SAHIROL DAYAWAN DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS EDUARDO MALAYA HAJI GULAM LACIERDA MALAYSIA J MARCELITA M SABAH
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