Relief after tense two-week wait for families of Abu Sayyaf hostages

SIBU, Malaysia - Family members of the hostages who have been released by the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers expressed relief that their loved ones have come home safe and sound.

A relative told The Star that the family was relieved their ordeal was finally over.

They had been told of the impending release about two weeks ago but it had been a tense wait until yesterday.

"The families cannot talk much now as they have been told not to reveal anything to anybody," said the relative, who declined to be named.

"I have been told that they are in good health.

"All the family members are now in Sandakan waiting to receive them," she said.

However, she said family members did not tell her whether ransom was paid to the militants for the release.

The family members had previously raised more than RM4mil from the public to secure their release from the captors.

She said the family members had earlier been told by police to wait at a meeting place in Sandakan for the return of the hostages.

Separately, 81-year-old Wong Lung Sung, the grandfather of Wong Teck Kang and Wong Teck Chii, told reporters yesterday that eight family members of three of the hostages had flown to Sabah two weeks ago after they were told of the release of the hostages.

The relatives of Wong Hung Sing stayed behind.

Lung Sung's wife, Lau Buong Ting, 70, said that for close to two weeks they had been receiving calls asking for confirmation on the news concerning the release of the four hostages.