Armed assailants kidnapped 20 people, including 10 foreign
tourists, from the Sipadan Island Resort in eastern Malaysia and
headed out to sea, presumably towards the Philippines.
Two Americans who had been captured escaped and are reported
Authorities said the hostages are nine Malaysians, three
Germans, two French, two South Africans, two Finnish, one Lebanese
and one Filipino. The 10 tourists include six women and four
A popular diving destination, the Malaysian island of Sipadan is
home to six resorts.
It is believed the hostage-takers are connected to the Islamic
fundamentalist group Abu Sayyaf operating out of the southern
Philippine island of Basilan.
The State Department advised travelers to the Philippines that
the Abu Sayyaf group warned it would retaliate against U.S.
citizens in the Philippines by shooting them or taking them hostage
if Islamic militants held in the U.S. were not released.