PETALING JAYA: The Abu Sayyaf has demanded RM8.8 million in ransom for five Malaysians it has held hostage for five months in Sulu in the Philippines, reports The Philippine Star.
The report said the terror group had rejected intermediaries and directly contacted the families or employers of the crew of Tugboat Serudung 3 it had captured on July 19 off the waters of Dent Haven, Tambisan, Lahad Datu, Sabah.
The Philippine military said it could not confirm the ransom as the Abu Sayyaf had directly negotiated with the family.
Major Filemon Tan Jr, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said ground forces were trying to recover the hostages still in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf.
He said rescue operations would continue even during the holidays.
The Malaysian victims are Tayudin Anjut, 45; Mohammad Ridzuan Ismail, 32; Abdul Rahim Summas, 62; Fandy Bakran, 26; and Zulkipli Ali.
The terror group is also believed to be holding captive a Dutch, a German, a Korean, four Indonesians, six Vietnamese and five Filipinos.