KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 — Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar refuted today rumours that four more Malaysians have been taken hostage by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in the southern Philippines, days after four Sarawakians were released.
The Inspector-General of Police said Malaysian intelligence have not received any reports to confirm the allegation.
“No, those are all mere rumours. We ourselves did not pick up intelligence that our citizens were kidnapped and the Philippine authorities have also not given us any confirmation.
“So until today, they are unable to give us any confirmation, so I assume that that is a rumour that such an incident happened,” he told reporters at the national police headquarters in Bukit Aman.
Last week, a Philippine media agency reported that another four Malaysians were snatched and taken to the Sulu province on June 16, just days after the four Sarawakian hostages were freed.
News of the alleged fresh kidnapping incident by Abu Sayyaf militants came amid the a storm of rumours online that a handsome ransom had been paid to the terror network to secure the release of the four.
The government has insisted that no ransom was paid but Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who oversees the police force as the home minister subsequently confirmed that RM12 million was given by the Special Branch to unidentified Filipino welfare groups to secure the release of the Sarawakian hostages.
Khalid, however, later denied the exchange happened as reported, and said the police had merely accompanied the family to the southern Philippines to hand over the money directly to an unknown “third party” who helped negotiate the foursome’s freedom.
Khalid also claimed ignorance when asked if the money was indeed for ransom.
Brothers Wong Teck Kang, 31, and Teck Chii, 29, their cousin Johnny, and an unrelated friend Wong Hung Sing, 34, were abducted from a commercial barge, MV Massive 6, in the waters off Pulau Ligitan on April 1 while returning to Tawau, Sabah, after sending a cargo of wood to Manila.
Abu Sayyaf gunmen freed the four hostages on June 8.