KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — The Abu Sayyaf militant group that allegedly abducted four Malaysians in Sabah waters is aiming to get money quickly in exchange for their victims’ release.
Local daily The Star reported today Prof Octavio Dinampo, an anti-kidnapping activist based in the Philippines, as citing a Facebook post that shows the four men in a photograph as a bid by the abductors to press their families to enter into negotiations.
He said this particular Abu Sayyaf group located at Jolo in the Philippines’ Sulu province would need cash as their fellow gunmen in Basilan Island have been engaged in clashes with the Philippines’ military.
“Things are becoming complicated for the gunmen and that is why they are trying to get the cash as fast as possible,” he was quoted saying.
Inflationary pressures had also hit the southern Philippines’ Sulu province and Tawi Tawi Islands after Malaysia froze their traditional barter trade with Sabah’s east coast and neighbouring countries.
Dinampo reportedly said prices of basic items including rice and fuel had gone up in these areas in the Philippines following the barter trade suspension, a move which he said showed Malaysia as unwilling to continue to “bargain” with the abductors.
“This is indicated in the Malaysian government’s move to halt all barter trade between Sabah and southern Philippines after the beheading of hostage Bernard Thien last November and the kidnapping of the four men on April 1,” he said.
According to The Star, the Facebook photo of the four Malaysian captives was posted last Thursday, where one of them held up a sign saying “Victor Troy”, and on April 8.
The report said the Abu Sayyaf group is believed to have set up the “Victor Troy Poz” Facebook page where the photo was posted.
On April 1, four Sarawakians — Wong Teck Kang, 31, Wong Hung Sing, 34, Wong Teck Chii, 29, and Johnny Lau Jung Hien, 21 — were abducted by gunmen in the waters off Ligitan Island in Sabah.