'Frenchman kidnap claim may be a ruse'

'Frenchman kidnap claim may be a ruse'
Abu Sayaf militants.

KOTA KINABALU - The claim about the kidnap of a French citizen from Sabah waters could be a bait to try provo­king the security forces.

"There have been no reports of any kidnappings, I think they (cross-border kidnappers) are just trying to provoke us," said Eastern Sabah Security Command chief Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun (pic) when contacted.

When contacted, Tawi Tawi police chief Col Joey Salido, whose jurisdiction covers the Tawi Tawi islands straddling close to Sabah's east coast, also said there were no reports of any kidnapping by Abu Sayyaf-linked Filipino gunmen, whether locally in Tawi Tawi or from across the border (Sabah).

A Philippines television network had recently claimed that the Frenchman was being kept at one of the islands in Tawi Tawi province.

The report further claimed that an unnamed officer from the Philippines military's Camp Crame did not disclose when the French tourist was grabbed and did not want to disclose the identity of the hostage.

Philippines security forces last Friday were involved in a shootout with Abu Sayyaf leader Radullan Sahiron and his group in jungles of Talipao in Jolo, where five soldiers were killed and 26 soldiers injured, while nine Abu Sayyaf gunmen were killed.

However, there is still no word on the condition of any of the dozen hostages, inclu­ding two Malaysians, held by Abu Sayyaf gunmen in the mountainous jungles of Jolo.

Fish breeder Chan Sai Chuin, 32, and marine police constable Kons Zakiah Aleip, 26, were respectively grabbed from a fish farm in Kunak on June 16 and from a police post in Mabul island on July 12.

Abu Sayyaf gunmen holding Chan is threatening to behead him by the end of this month if his wife fails to pay a RM 3 million (S$1.16 million) ransom.

Chan's wife Chin Pek Nyen, when contacted, said she had received demands for the money yesterday (Sunday) morning.

"I am not sure how he (Chan) is. They tell me he is okay. But they are still threatening to behead him," said a distressed Chin, who has not been able to raise the money despite her efforts to seek help from the public recently.

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