Semporna resort kidnap: Authorities receive proof Chinese national is alive

Gao Hua Yuan, a tourist from China, was one of two people kidnapped after seven gunmen stormed the Singamata Reef Resort near the town of Semporna on Borneo island in the state of Sabah

KOTA KINABALU - Intermediaries working towards the release of a Chinese national kidnapped from a resort off Semporna have been given proof that she is alive.

Sabah police commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib confirmed that they have received a photograph of Gao Hua Yuan taken in the southern Philippines.

He, however, declined to say when the picture was taken and received by state police.

Hamza also refused to comment if police had received any fresh ransom demands.

Gao, 29, from Shanghai and Filipino resort worker Marcy Darawan, 40, were snatched by seven Abu Sayyyaf linked gunmen from the Singamata Reef Resort off Semporna on April 2.

Initial demands made through intermediaries put the ransom amount at 500mil Pesos (S$14mil) but the latest indication is that the kidnappers are demanding a sum in the region of US$1mil (S$1.25mil) for Gao's release.

The latest developments come amid news that Philippines security forces killed a suspected Abu Sayyaf member in the village of Patikul, where initial unconfirmed reports indicated that the gunmen were hiding out.

Philippines officials maintain that there have been no sightings or confirmation of the hostages or the gunmen's whereabouts.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has disclosed that Malaysian police and their Philippines counterparts are working towards making direct contact with the gunmen.

The Philippines government reiterated on Monday that it would continue to observe its "no ransom policy" in handling kidnapping cases.