A Chinese tourist and a Filipino worker have been rescued nearly two months after they were abducted from a resort off Borneo island, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has said.
Najib credited their release to cooperation between Malaysian and Philippine security forces, saying no ransom was paid.
Malaysian officials earlier said the kidnappers had demanded a ransom of $11.4m for the Chinese hostage.
Gunmen, believed to be Philippine Abu Sayyaf fighters, kidnapped the 28-year-old Shanghai woman and the 40-year-old Filipino woman from the Singamata Reef Resort in the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah on April 2.
They were believed to have been taken to the southern Philippines.
“No ransom paid to secure their release. Success due to cooperation of Malaysia and Philippines security forces. I thank all involved,” Najib said on Twitter.
He said authorities were working to return Gao Huayun, the Chinese woman, to her home country as soon as possible.
Two Philippine security officials who have been monitoring kidnappings in the south confirmed the two women had been released by Abu Sayyaf fighters in Parang township in the southern Philippine province of Sulu after a series of negotiations.
The two were served lunch by local police and then escorted out of Sulu on board a speedboat back to Sabah, said the officials, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media.
Philippine military and police believe an Abu Sayyaf faction led by commander Alhabsi Misaya was involved in the abduction of the women, who were held in a jungle camp in Sulu’s Indanan township, near Parang. Misaya’s group has been blamed for other kidnappings in the poor, predominantly Muslim province.
There has been a spate of kidnappings in recent months off Sabah, a popular tourist destination and dive spot that is just a short boat ride from the southern Philippines.