KUALA LUMPUR - Two women, one a Chinese and another a Filipina, abducted from a resort off Semporna in Malaysia's Sabah state last month, have been released without any ransom paid, media reports said.
The Malaysian Insider reported that prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak tweeted about the release of Ms Gao Hua Yuan and Marcy Dayawan after nearly two months of capitivity.
Their release was secured by cooperation between the Malaysian and Philippines security forces, the tweet sent out Friday evening said.
"We are taking steps to facilitate the return of the Chinese national to her home as soon as possible," the tweets said. "No ransom paid to secure their release. Success due to cooperation of Malaysia and Philippines security forces. I thank all involved," Mr Najib tweeted.
On April 2, seven gunmen entered the resort at night and abducted 29-year-old Ms Gao from Shanghai and 40-year-old Ms Marcy from the Singamata Reef Resort.
It was reported that Malaysian authorities believed the Abu Sayyaf, an Islamist militant group based in and around the southern Philippines, was behind the abduction and that they had help on the inside. Sabah police had revealed that the abduction was also likely to have involved resort staff.
The incident was one of three in the past seven months involving a breach in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone established after the Lahad Datu "invasion" by Sulu forces early last year.
In November last year, Taiwanese tourist Chang An Wei was abducted from the Pom Pom island resort while her partner, Li Min Hsu was shot dead.
Ms Chang was freed a month later after a substantial ransom was paid to the Abu Sayyaf via intermediaries. Earlier this month, Chinese national Yang Zai Lin, 34, was abducted by Abu Sayyaf gunmen from a fish farm near Pulau Babi, Lahad Datu, and taken away in a speedboat. Mr Yang, a Guangzhou native, had been running the fish farm for three years. The farm is owned by Hong Kong-based Wonderful Terrace Sdn Bhd.
The Abu Sayyaf is an Islamic militant group which rose to prominence in the 1990s as they fought for an independent Islamic province in the Philippines.
Its members have been known to be involved in bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion activities.