SEMPORNA: The kidnappers of the two women from the Singamata Reef Resort off Sipadan were also involved in the abduction of a Taiwanese woman from Pom-Pom Island last year and 21 people from Sipadan Island in 2000.
"One of them is believed to be involved in the kidnap of Taiwanese woman on Nov 15 in Pom Pom Island, while the rest are believed to be involved in the Sipadan island kidnapping (of 21 people) in 2000," Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) director-general Datuk Mohammad Mentek said in a statement.
He said that based on intelligence received, Chinese tourist Gao Huayuan, 29, and Filipina resort employee Marcy Darawan @ Mimi, 40, were being held on an island in southern Philippines by Abu Sayyaf gunmen and were in good shape.
"We believe that this particular kidnap for ransom group is active and aggressive in the southern Philippines," he said, adding that the local Filipino community might have provided information to the gunmen.
Mohammad also disclosed that 15 of the resorts foreign workers have been detained for not possessing valid travel documents.
He has also directed the Immigration Department to carry out a full investigations and take action, including charging the operator for employing foreigners without valid documents.
"We cannot compromise anymore because we have given enough advice and reminders to all operators in the area, but many refuse to adhere to it," he said.
Mohammad also said that before Wednesday's incident, security forces spotted five boats that were attempting to get into Semporna on March 26.
"The presence of our forces in area managed to deter four boats from entering Semporna waters," he said, without elaborate what happened to the fifth boat.