By The Straits Times
Asia News N
Malaysian police have linked gunmen who murdered a Taiwanese tourist and kidnapped his wife on an island off the east coast of Sabah on Friday midnight to the al-Qaeda and Abu Sayyaf terrorist groups.
Police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said the police have launched a massive air and sea hunt for eight gunmen who stormed a tourist resort on Pom Pom Island, 45 minutes away from Semporna, a coastal town in Sabah.
The gunmen took Chang An Wei, 58, hostage after shooting her husband, Lim Min Hsu, 57, twice in the chest and ribs.
Police believe they fled by boat towards Mataking Island and may be headed towards the southern Philippines.
The couple had arrived on the island last Tuesday and were due to leave on Wednesday.
“We have contacted the Filipino border authorities to search on their side,” Khalid told local media on Saturday.
“We are also sweeping our side as well to ensure they are not using our territory to hide the victim,” he added.
Police counter-terrorism unit head Mohamad Fuzi Harun said Interpol and Asean counterparts are helping.
“We believe that the gunmen are seeking ransom but we are not ruling out the possibility that they are also seeking revenge on the Lahad Datu intrusion, as these gunmen have connections with one another,” he told The Sunday Times.
The Sabah islands, famous for their azure-blue waters and sunsets, are popular tourist and scuba-diving destinations for locals and foreigners.
“But, the state’s long and porous coastlines, as well as its proximity to southern Philippines, where many insurgents are holed up, have also made it easy for terrorist groups to abduct tourists and locals as ransom for weapons and money,” Dr Oh Ei Sun, a political analyst at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, told The Sunday Times.