Zayn Malik has taken a leave of absence from the boy band One Direction's current tour, citing stress in the wake of photos showing the engaged singer holding hands with and hugging another woman.
"Zayn has been signed off with stress and is flying back to the UK to recuperate," the band's publicist, Simon Jones, said in a Twitter announcement Thursday. "The band [members] wish him well and will continue with their performances in Manila and Jakarta."
Before the announcement, Malik had tweeted, "I'm 22 years old . . . I love a girl named Perrie Edwards," a singer in the British girl group Little Mix, which won the UK edition of "The X Factor" in 2011. "And there's a lot of jealous . . . [expletive] in this world I'm sorry for what it looks like x."
Malik and Edwards, 21, became engaged in August 2013.
On Tuesday night, a photo emerged on social media of Malik walking hand in hand with a blond woman -- identified by the Irish Independent as 19-year-old Lauren Richardson, of Essex, England -- outside the nightclub Seduction in Phuket, Thailand. One Direction had played Bangkok on Saturday and had four days off until its next concert in Hong Kong.
The UK newspaper the Daily Mirror said Malik left a TV-commercial recording session in Hong Kong to fly back to England and will miss at least the next three tour dates -- Manila on Saturday and Sunday and Jakarta, Indonesia, on Wednesday.