KOTA KINABALU - After weeks of quiet negotiations through Malaysian police intermediaries, Chinese tourist Gao Huayun and Filipino hotel worker Marcy Dayawan were freed from terror group Abu Sayyaf's stronghold of Jolo island in southern Philippines.
The negotiations began soon after Gao, 29, and Dayawan, 40, were abducted from the Singamata Reef Resort near Semporna by five gunmen on April 2.
Philippines National Police Sulu province chief Supt Abraham Orbita said the two women were taken from the Abu Sayyaf mountainous hideouts in Jolo island to the seaside village of Parang at about 11.30am yesterday.
"They were then handed over to the Malaysians and were taken in a speedboat into Malaysian waters," said Orbita, who said it was uncertain if any ransom was paid.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak tweeted last night that no ransom was paid in the release of the two women.
Expressing his appreciation and thanks to the security forces for the success in securing the release of the two victims, he said the Government was taking steps to facilitate the return of Gao to her home as soon as possible.
The Shanghai student is likely to fly back to China today via Kuala Lumpur.
"I have just been briefed by the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) that the two women abducted from a resort in Sabah last April had been rescued by our authorities.