The Singamata Reef Resort in Semporna
SEMPORNA: Police believe that kidnap-for-ransom groups based in southern Philippines are responsible for the abduction of two women - a Chinese tourist and a Filipino resort worker in Semporna.
Police also suspect that seven gunmen had “inside help'' to get into the resort, Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib said on Thursday, adding that “anyone wanting to enter the resort area needed to be brought or let in by a Singamata Reef Resort staff.
Hamza said they had identified certain groups in their efforts to track down the gunmen in the hope of rescuing the two abducted women.
“It looks like kidnap-for-ransom groups (KFR) are behind this. The group that came in abducts the victims and then sells them to other groups,'' he said, adding that they were recording the statements of the 49 resort workers and 61 tourists (59 Chinese, one Iranian and one Malaysian) in their investigations.
"No arrests have been made,'' he said, adding that they were only after people who could assist in their investigations.
Police believe that the Chinese tourist Gao Hua Yuan, 29, - who arrived at the Singamata Reef Resort with two other friends on April 2 for a diving course - might have been randomly picked up by the gunmen armed with M.14 carbine rifles.
Hamza said the Chinese woman was on her phone and standing along the veranda outside her room when armed men who were escaping with Filipino staff, Marcy Dayawan @ Mimi, grabbed her.
“On landing at the resort's rear entrance, the group entered the room of forty-year-old Mimi and grabbed her before fleeing.
“As they were running towards their boat, they grabbed Gao,'' he told reporters in Kota Kinabalu after checking out the crime scene at the resort in Semporna.
He said four gunmen remained on the boat while three others went up into the 40-room stilt resort built on a reef at around 10.30pm on Wednesday.
“I was told that the Chinese girl was screaming and saying in English ‘I don't want to go','' Hamza said, adding that there were no shots fired and no one was injured during the raid that lasted about 30 minutes.
He said police and other security forces had launched a hunt for the suspects.
He said the resort operators had been working closely with the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom), and other security forces to ensure the safety of their guests at the resort that has been operating since 2004.
Hamza added that the Consul General of China had been contacted and they were working together for updates.