Americans elude Malaysia kidnappers

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 safe.

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 men.

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.

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