Inside help suspected in Sabah resort kidnappings
POLICE suspect that gunmen who abducted a Chinese tourist and a Filipino worker from a dive resort in Sabah had "inside help" to get into the resort, Sabah Police Commissioner Hamza Taib said yesterday.
The two women were taken at around 10.30pm on Wednesday from the Singamata Reef Resort on the island of Borneo, after up to seven gunmen raided the property.
Mr Hamza said that anyone wanting to enter the resort area needed to be taken or let in by a member of Singamata Reef Resort staff.
Police believe that Chinese tourist Gao Hua Yuan - who arrived at the resort with two friends on Wednesday for a diving course - might have been randomly picked up by the gunmen.
The Chinese woman was on her phone and standing along the veranda outside her room when the gunmen grabbed her on their way to the jetty.
"On landing at the resort's rear entrance, the group entered the room of Mimi (the Filipino worker) and grabbed her before fleeing.
"As they were running towards their boat, they grabbed Gao," Mr Hamza told reporters in Kota Kinabalu.
"I was told that the Chinese girl was screaming and saying in English 'I don't want to go'," he said.
According to one report, the women were discovered missing after the resort ordered a roll call as police arrived, just minutes after the gunmen had fled.
The kidnapping comes at a time when relations between Malaysia and China have already been strained by the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which went missing last month with 239 people aboard, mostly Chinese.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the abduction could be a deliberate act to sour the country's ties with China.
"There may be those who are attempting to drive a wedge between us and China. They may be trying to take advantage of the situation," said Mr Najib, after a meeting with his Australian counterpart, Mr Tony Abbott, in Perth yesterday.
Sabah has become a popular destination for Chinese tourists in recent years, but has encountered security problems because of its proximity to the restive southern Philippines.
More than 200 heavily armed followers of a self-proclaimed Philippine sultan landed in Sabah in February last year, claiming it for their leader. Dozens were left dead after a stand-off that lasted nearly a month as Malaysian armed forces moved in to clear out the guerillas.
In November, armed men who landed on Pom-Pom island off Semporna killed a tourist from Taiwan and abducted his wife. She was later rescued by Philippine security forces.
AFP, REUTERS, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK