Gunmen still want $1.4m for marine cop's release

Gunmen still want $1.4m for marine cop's release

KOTA KINABALU - Security forces are hoping to seal a ransom-free deal with Filipino abductors who are holding marine police Kons Zakiah Aleip in the interiors of Jolo Island.

The abductors are not willing to reduce their demand of about 40 million Pesos (S$1.4 million) to release the policeman, said Federal Internal Security and Public Order director Senior Deputy Comm Datuk Muhammad Fuad Abu Zarim during a visit to the 26-year-old constable's house in Tenghilan near Tuaran here yesterday.

"This is the lowest amount the abductors are willing to take for Zakiah's release for now, but we will continue negotiating and hope to bring him back as soon as possible," he said during the visit with his wife Datin Normah Mohd Shah, Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman and other officials.

Muhammad said Zakiah was in good health and was fine despite being kept in the jungle and was always on the move.

So far, Zakiah, who was abducted in Pulau Mabul on July 12, had made 82 calls to his wife and parents here.

He added that they are also working for the release of another kidnap victim Chan Sai Chuin, 32, who was taken from a fish farm at Kampung Sapang in Kunak on June 16.

A demand of RM3 million was asked for Chan by the Abu Sayyaf kidnap for ransom group.

Both of these victims are given the same amount of focus in terms of securing their release, said Muhammad.

Sharifah Erna Berson, the 23-year-old wife of Zakiah, said his son misses him.

"The last call home from my husband was sometime last week. He asked how we were doing and his voice chocked with emotion when he heard our son crying in the background," she said.

Zakiah's mother Juna Gumbur also broke down when speaking about her son.

"It has been three months now and we miss him very much, please bring him home safely," she said.

Meanwhile, a German couple Henrite Dielen and Dr Stefan Viktor Okonek who were kidnapped by another group during their visit to the Palawan Islands in April are facing death unless ransom was paid.

Al-Qaeda linked militants in the Philippines said on Oct 2 that they would behead Okonek if their demands for ransom, the withdrawal of US troops in Syria and Iraq, as well as call to the Philippine government to support the global coalition of Isis, were not met by 3pm on Oct 17.

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