KOTA KINABALU - Abu Sayyaf gunmen are apparently asking for up to RM5 million (S$1.95 million) to secure the release of Zakiah Aleip, the marine police constable who was kidnapped off Semporna on July 12.
Kons Zakiah, 26, was taken by a group of Filipino gunmen from Mabul Island while his colleague Kpl Ab Rajah Jamuan, 32, was shot dead during a raid at a resort.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman declined to disclose the amount involved but said the negotiations to secure Zakiah's freedom might take longer as the amount was terlalu tinggi (too high).
He said a total of 42 calls were received by Zakiah's wife and other policemen from either Zakiah or the gunmen.
"The gunmen also gave him (Zakiah) chance to speak to his wife and family members, mostly in the afternoon or evening," he said.
"It is going to take time, the amount is too high," Jalaluddin said, adding that the Zakiah was unhurt although he was being moved about by the captors to evade arrest by Philippines police.
On the call for assistance of the government by Chin Pek Nyen, wife of Chan Sai Chuin, 32, who was grabbed from his Kunak fish farm on June 16, Jalaluddin said he had discussed Chan and Zakiah's case with the Inspector-General of Police.
It is believed that the Abu Sayyaf group holding Chan was demanding a ransom of RM3 million.