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Taiwanese tourist kidnapped in Sabah safely home
Publication Date : 22-12-2013
Taiwanese tourist Chang An Wei, who was released by her abductors in Southern Philippines on Friday, stepped out of a China Airlines flight at the Taoyuan international airport at about 1:35pm on Saturday.
Her sister and her mother were there to receive her. Dressed in a loose T-shirt and wearing sunglasses, she appeared to be in a jovial mood and waved at members of the media.
She was ferried out of the airport in a shuttle van, accompanied by Taiwanese foreign affairs ministry officials.
It was learnt that her elder brother Chang Da Gong accompanied her on her way back from Manila.
The Taiwanese police later held a press conference detailing the rescue of the 58-year-old woman.
Philippine police and marines found her on Friday in a forested area located between the villages of Maimbung and Indanan in the Philippine island of Jolo.
Sulu provincial commander Colonel Jose Cenabre said residents had tipped off the authorities.
Chang was holidaying with her husband Lee Min Hsu, 57, on Pom Pom island off Sabah’s east coast on November 15 when Abu Sayyaf-linked gunmen stormed their villa.
The heavily armed militants who wore ski masks, shot her husband dead before abducting her and taking her by boat to Jolo.
Chang told Filipino authorities that she did not see her husband being killed, but only heard gunshots as he was dragged away.
According to Taiwanese media, the person believed to be behind Chang’s release is a nephew of Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou.
Meanwhile, Malaysian and Philippines security forces have vowed to step up patrols along the sea borders.
Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) director general Mohammad Mentek hoped that Chang would be the last cross-border kidnap incident.
He said security forces under the Esscom had stepped up operations and intelligence gathering to ensure that eastern Sabah remained tightly guarded to prevent any criminal elements from slipping in.
He hoped that the security forces would work harder to ensure the East Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) was safe.
Philippines Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lt Gen Rustico Guerrero said Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) had also stepped up the security in the vast border areas between Philippines and Malaysia to prevent the militants from harassing island resorts in Sabah.
Before the November 15 incident, the Philippines navy had reduced its patrol in the border close to Sabah and deployed several vessels to the relief operations in the Visayas which was devastated by the super typhoon Haiyan.
Guerrero said troops in the island province of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi had been directed to intensify operations against Abu Sayyaf.
However, intelligence units on both sides of the border have not yet established if the Abu Sayaff group was responsible for the kidnapping.
Officials have also not indicated if ransom was paid for the release of Chang.