Police mum over fate of sailors kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf

KOTA KINABALU - Sabah police remain tightlipped about the fate of four Malaysian sailors held by Abu Sayyaf gunmen in Jolo island in spite of the disclosure by a relative of the captives that contact has been made.

State Deputy Police Commissioner Datuk Awang Sahari EM Hadzeer declined to comment when asked about the latest development on the kidnapping case.

"We will notify the press if we have any information to release," he said yesterday.

The four - siblings Wong Teck Kang, 31, Wong Teck Chii, 29, and Wong Hung Sing, 34, as well as Johnny Lau Jung Hien, 21, were abducted from a tugboat off Pulau Ligitan near Semporna on April 1.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said police were negotiating with the Philippine authorities in the effort to get the abductors to release them.

"I don't want to comment further for the sake of their safety. But we are following developments and will continue with the negotiations and take the necessary steps to ensure their safety," he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

In a related development, Lau's mother was quoted by a local Sarawak newspaper in Sibu as saying that one of the Wong brothers managed to contact their father on Tuesday.

During the call, it was revealed that all four of them were safe.

The newspaper also reported that Lau's mother did not reveal whether a ransom demand had been made to secure the release of the four.

It said that she came to know about the call as her family and that of the Wong siblings were neighbours.

Lau's mother also made an appeal to the Malaysian Government to work with the Philippines in securing the safe return of the captives, it added.

The Foreign Ministry has reiterated its request for assistance in securing the release of the four Malaysians.

The reiteration was made to the Philippines Ambassador to Malaysia Jose Eduardo E. Malaya, according to Bernama.

"The ambassador assured Malay-sia that the government of the Philippines is undertaking all the necessary efforts to locate the four Malaysians," Wisma Putra said in a statement.

On April 6, a similar request was made by the Embassy of Malaysia in Manila to the Philippine Depart-ment of Foreign Affairs.

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