KOTA KINABALU: Gunmen linked to the Abu Sayyaf stormed into a popular seaside restaurant near Sandakan and abducted the manager and a customer during dinner on Thursday.
The four men, one armed with an automatic rifle with bullets strapped on his chest and another with a pistol, burst into the Ocean King Seafood Restaurant at about 7.40pm prompting the patrons to flee.
The restaurant owner, Chung Yan Tsim, said his 48-year-old sister-in-law, who manages the restaurant, and the customer, believed to be from Sarawak, were bundled off by the gunmen in the raid lasting less than a minute.
"They fled in a boat. There wore no mask and there was no shooting," Chung said, adding that the customer was sitting with his family but could not run away when the gunmen barged into the restaurant.
Security forces have gone on an immediate alert as Sandakan is only about an hour's ride on speed boat from the southern Philippines island Bakungan Besar.
A massive operation is underway to hunt the group believed to be cross-border kidnap gangs linked to the terror Abu Sayyaf kidnap groups that operate in southern Philippines.
Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) commander Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun when contacted said they were at the scene and taking necessary action.
He declined to say anything further.
Sabah police have been hunting for a suspected armed gang of seven men spotted at a plantation in Kinabatangan about 100kms from Sandakan earlier this month.
They were also investigating a robbery of an outboard engine at a lobster farm in Semporna on May 7.
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