Kid­nap­ping scares Chi­nese

Abu Sayyaf group be­lieved to be be­hind raid on re­sort

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO SHENGNAN in Bei­jing and WANG HONGYI in Shang­hai

Chi­nese tourists at a Malaysian re­sort have left or plan to leave for home af­ter a raid by gun­men who kid­napped a Chi­nese cit­i­zen.

Six armed men raided the Singa­mata Reef Re­sort in the east­ern state of Sabah at about 10:30 pm lo­cal time on Wed­nes­day and forced 29- year- old Gao Huayun from Shang­hai onto a wait­ing speed­boat af­ter she took a bath.

They also kid­napped a ho­tel worker from the Philip­pines.

It is not clear where the ho­tel worker, Marcy Dayawan, 40, was ab­ducted.

Datuk Hamza Taib, Sabah Po­lice Com­mis­sioner, con­firmed that the group of armed men are no longer in Sabah, Xin­hua News Agency re­ported.

He added that there could have been some­one within the re­sort work­ing with the sus­pects.

He a lso be­lieved that the vic­tims are safe, ac­cord­ing in­tel­li­gence they had so far.

The in­ci­dent is bound to hit the Malaysian tourism mar­ket, a travel specialist said.

“It will un­doubt­edly be af­fected by the in­ci­dent, though it’s hard to eval­u­ate how se­vere it will be,” said Liu Ying from Tian­jin Jin­sheng In­ter­na­tional Travel Agency.

“Chi­nese people like to va­ca­tion in Malaysia for hol­i­days be­cause it is af­ford­able and nearby. The miss­ing of MH370 plane and this inci- dent have un­doubt­edly made mat­ters worse,” she added.

Bei­jing urged Malaysian au­thor­i­ties on Thurs­day to spare no ef­forts in their search, which was launched im­me­di­ately.

The For­eign Min­istry and China’s con­sulate-gen­eral in Kuch­ing, in east Malaysia, im­me­di­ately dis­patched staff to the re­sort to as­sist the 61 guests — 59 of them Chi­nese na­tion­als.

The min­istry also asked lo­cal se­cu­rity forces to en­sure the safety of Chi­nese tourists, min­istry spokesman Hong Lei said at a me­dia con­fer­ence on Thurs­day.

Gao’s fa­ther called a ra­dio sta­tion in Shang­hai on Wed­nes­day morn­ing plead­ing for help. He said his daugh­ter was on va­ca­tion in Sabah along with some friends. She just got a let­ter of ad­mis­sion from a Bri­tish univer­sity on Wed­nes­day.

The kid­nap­ping could be a de­lib­er­ate act to sour Si­noMalaysian ties, Malaysian news­pa­per The Star quoted Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak as say­ing.

Na­jib made the state­ment af­ter he met with his Aus­tralian coun­ter­part Tony Ab­bott in Perth, Aus­tralia.

The gun­men are be­lieved to have headed for the is­land chain of Tawi Tawi in the south­ern Philip­pines, The Star news­pa­per re­ported.

A Philip­pines in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cial said the at­tack­ers were be­lieved to be from the Abu Sayaff group, a mil­i­tant Mus­lim group that claims al­le­giance to al-Qaida and has been im­pli­cated in kid­nap­pings be­fore.

In Novem­ber, sus­pected Abu Sayyaf mil­i­tants shot and killed a Tai­wan tourist and kid­napped his wife from a re­sort in the same area. The woman was re­leased a month later in the south­ern Philip­pines. Au­thor­i­ties did not say whether a ran­som was paid.

China’s con­sulate-gen­eral in Kuch­ing has es­tab­lished an emer­gency hot­line for con­cerned fam­i­lies.

It also warned tourists not to visit re­mote ar­eas.

China is the third-largest source of vis­i­tors to Malaysia. Ac­cord­ing to Tourism Malaysia, 1.79 mil­lion Chi­nese vis­ited the coun­try last year, a 15 per­cent rise over the pre­vi­ous year.

Chi­nese travel agencies have re­ported a sharp drop in the num­ber of people vis­it­ing Malaysia since the dis­ap­pear­ance of flight MH370. Con­tact the writ­ers at zhaosheng­nan@chi­nadaily. and wanghongyi@ chi­



Top: A po­lice speed­boat pa­trols out­side Singa­mata Reef Re­sort on Thurs­day af­ter the re­sort in Malaysia’s east­ern state of Sabah was raided on Wed­nes­day night by gun­men who kid­napped a Chi­nese cit­i­zen and a ho­tel worker from the Philip­pines. Above: A pic­ture taken with a cell­phone shows people at Singa­mata Reef Re­sort duck­ing when they hear gun­shots.

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