A Taiwanese tourist who was kidnapped more than a month ago in Malaysia has been found alive in the southern Philippines, the country’s military said.
Chang An Wei, 58, also known as Evelyn Chang, was found by Philippine marines at a village near Talipao, a town on the remote island of Jolo where Abu Sayyaf Islamic fighters are known to operate, they said on Friday.
“She is in good condition,” provincial military commander, Colonel Jose Cenabre, told AFP news agency by telephone.
The woman and her husband were holidaying at a secluded resort on Pom Pom island in Malaysia’s Sabah state, which is near the Sulu island group that includes Jolo, when gunmen attacked on November 15.
Chang’s husband was killed during the kidnapping.
Cenabre said on Saturday that kidnappers handed over Chang to al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf fighters in Sulu, which is near Malaysia. The brigade commander was unaware if ransom was paid for Chang’s release.
The Abu Sayyaf is a small armed movement that has been blamed for a string of attacks and kidnappings of foreigners in the Philippines.
It was founded with seed money from Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network to fight for an independent Islamic state, though it later turned into a criminal gang.
US Special Forces have been rotating through Jolo and other parts of the southern Philippines for more than a decade to train local troops battling the group, which is on Washington’s list of “foreign terrorist organisations”.
Philippine authorities say Abu Sayyaf gunmen are believed still to hold a number of foreign as well as Filipino hostages on Jolo, including two European birdwatchers and a Japanese treasure hunter.
Dutchman Ewold Horn and Lorenzo Vinciguerra of Switzerland were abducted in the Tawi-Tawi island group near Jolo in February last year, while Amer Mamaito Katayama of Japan was abducted on the island of Pangutaran near Jolo in July 2010.