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Kidnappers demand US$11 mil. for Chinese tourist: Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR--Kidnappers based in the southern Philippines have demanded more than US$11 million in ransom for a Chinese tourist abducted from a Malaysian dive resort, a senior minister said Thursday.

Malaysian Home Minister Zahid Hamidi told AFP the family of Gao Huayun, who was kidnapped by gunmen on April 2 along with a Filipina resort worker, are negotiating with her abductors through an intermediary.

“The kidnappers have asked for 36.4 million ringgit (US$11.25 million). Gao's family has appointed someone to negotiate for her safe release,” said Zahid, whose ministry handles internal security and law enforcement.

“We hope this case can be settled as soon as possible.”

He gave no further details.

Gao, who is 29, and Filipina resort worker Marcy Dayawan, 40, were taken from the Singamata Reef Resort in Malaysia's Borneo island state of Sabah in a late-night raid by a group of gunmen.

The area of eastern Sabah is famed for its world-class scuba diving but also notorious for lawlessness and kidnappings blamed on bandits from the Muslim southern Philippines.

The Philippine military said last week the Abu Sayyaf, a small band of Islamic militants infamous for kidnappings for ransom, are the prime suspects.

It said the Philippines had responded by deploying soldiers to the remote Tawi-Tawi islands, where the gunmen were

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