Semporna kidnap: Taiwanese tourist freed

KOTA KINABALU - A Taiwanese tourist abducted from Pom Pom island off Sabah's east coast 36 days ago has been found safe and sound in the southern Philippine island of Jolo.

Chang An Wei (pic), 58, was found alone in an area between the villages of Maimbung and Indanan at 4.30pm yesterday in a joint operation by the Philippine military, police and local government officials.

Philippines Armed Forces task force Sulu chief Brig Gen Jose Joriel Cenabre said a tip-off enabled the team to locate Chang in a forested area.

Her captors let her go, he said, adding that Chang was exhausted but was otherwise physically unharmed.

He did not say if a ransom was paid.

Brig Gen Cenabre said Chang initially appeared to be stoic after her rescue and did not say much until she was sent to the hospital at the AFP's Camp Bautista in Jolo island for a medical check up.

"When we arrived at the hospital and as I was trying to talk to her with our doctors and nurses nearby, she suddenly broke into tears and said 'thank you' several times," he said.

"I think she finally realised that her ordeal had really ended," Brig Gen Cenabre said, adding that Chang was also given a change of clothes at the hospital.

He said Chang was then taken by boat to Zamboanga City where a nephew was waiting. "She will be brought to Manila on Saturday," Gen Cenabre added.

Chang's brother Richard Chang Da Gong is believed to be in Manila.

She was abducted from the Pom Pom Island Resort and Spa, after gunmen barged into a water villa where she and her husband were staying and shot dead her husband Lee Min Hsu, 57, at 1am on Nov 15. They then whisked Chang away.

The gunmen ransacked three of the six villas, including the one occupied by the couple before fleeing into international waters.

Militant Abu Sayyaf-linked gunmen have abducted a number of Malaysians and foreigners from various locations in Sabah's east coast over the past several years and spirited their victims to Jolo island that has become known as the Philippines' kidnap capital.