SEMPORNA - Kons Zakiah Aleip, who was abducted by Filipino gunmen, is alive. He called his wife to say that he was okay but was being held by a group of people.
Sharifah Erna Berson received the call at around 9pm but no demands were made and the gunmen, believed to be linked to the Abu Sayyaf terror group, did not give any indication if Kons Zakiah was being held in Jolo island or in Tawi-Tawi.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said: "He (Kons Zakiah) told his wife that he was okay and told her that he was with some people.
"She received the call at between 9pm and 10pm on Sunday," said Khalid, who has been in Semporna since Sunday.
Asked if police knew where Kons Zakiah was being held, Khalid said: "We are not sure. We are waiting for further calls."
Asked if any group has attempted to contact the police, he said the only contact was made to the wife.
Khalid also said police had scrutinised the CCTV footage taken from the Mabul Water Bungalows Resort and believed they know the identify of some of the eight gunmen in military fatigues. Except for their leader, all of them were masked.
"We have identified several of them and are working together with the Filipino authorities to investigate," said Khalid, who paid his last respects to slain police Kpl Abdul Rajah Jamuan at Kampung Bubul near here on Sunday night.
He said the police were sure of the involvement of "certain masterminds" who were believed to have given inside information to the Mabul attackers.
An hour before midnight on Saturday, eight Filipino gunmen arrived at Pulau Mabul and shot dead Kpl Abdul Rajah before kidnapping Kons Zakiah. The two were having their meal at a restaurant, while two other marine personnel were on anchor watch on a patrol boat nearby.
Catching them by surprise, the gunmen opened fire at the police personnel. Resort guests said they heard at least 10 shots being fired.
Security forces in southern Philippines are checking if the Filipino gunmen have slipped back into the Tawi-Tawi chain of islands.
Tawi-Tawi police chief Col Joey Salido said: "Our coastguards and navy went into the area late Sunday but could not locate the group. We went back this morning (Monday) and there was no sighting."
However, he said they received unverified information that the group and the hostage were heading into the Sulu area.