Sandakan kidnapping: Hostages kept under close watch by gunmen

KOTA KINABALU - Malaysian hostages Thien Nyuk Fun and Bernard Then Ted Fun are being closely watched by dozens of gunmen in a mountainous region on Jolo island in the southern Philippines.

Local anti-kidnapping activist Prof Octavio Dinampo said gunmen from three groups were guarding the 50-year-old Thien and Bernard, 39, who were abducted from the Ocean King seafood restaurant on May 14.

He said the information he had received was that Thien and Bernard arrived in Jolo on May 15 and landed at Talipao municipality before being taken to neighbouring Indanan.

"They are kept under close watch and are safe," said Octavio, adding that the group holding Thien and Bernard was under the command of Alhabsi Misaya.

"Besides Alhabsi's group, those guarding the two captives include gunmen led by Harimau Ali and another breakaway faction of the MNLF," he said.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman had said on Saturday that gunmen holding Thien and Bernard were constantly on the move to avoid detection by Philippines security forces.

Jalaluddin said Thien and Bernard's families had over the past week received three calls with demands for money to buy medicine and food for the two captives.

He also confirmed that the families had received ransom calls but declined to state the amount demanded.