Malaysian police yesterday said the Philippines’ Abu Sayyaf militant Islamist group was believed to be behind the killing of a Taiwanese tourist and the kidnapping of his wife.
Unidentified gunmen shot dead 57-year-old Hsu Li-min (許立民) and kidnapped his female companion, 58-year-old Chang An-wei (張安薇), early on Friday on Pom Pom Island, a popular scuba diving location in the eastern state of Sabah on Borneo Island.
The incident — in a remote part that was rocked earlier this year by a bloody Philippine militant incursion — has underlined continued threats in the region despite a Malaysian security clampdown.
Police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said Abu Sayyaf was suspected to be behind the attack.
“We believe the terrorists were able to slip in because there has been a big mobilization of resources of the Philippine armed forces from the country’s south to the north to help out in relief work for victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan,” he was quoted by national news agency Bernama as saying.
Khalid added the attackers were believed to have come in a group of eight in a speedboat.
Authorities are still trying to find the kidnapped woman with help from their Philippine counterparts, he said.
Local authorities said yesterday that Chang is likely still alive, but her armed captors may have taken her to an island off the Philippines.
Funded by the late al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, Abu Sayyaf has targeted foreigners with kidnappings for ransom and has been accused of most of the Philippines’ deadliest insurgent attacks.
The southern Philippines is just a short boat ride away from Sabah’s east coast.
Meanwhile, Sabah Police Commissioner Hamza Taib said Hsu’s body has been sent to a nearby hospital for an autopsy.
Police are continuing to gather information from the other tourists at the resort, who reportedly have not left the island and will continue with their vacation plans. Chang and Hsu checked into the resort on Tuesday and were scheduled to check out on Wednesday this week.
Their family has asked Taiwan’s government for assistance.
Hsu Li-min’s elder brother, Hsu Li-jen (許立人), said he found it unbelievable that a shooting like this could take place at a popular tourist resort, urging Taiwan to help his family find justice.
The elder Hsu said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has conveyed the family’s wishes that Malaysian authorities not conduct an autopsy without the family present.
The family of the deceased is scheduled to travel to Malaysia tomorrow to put his affairs in order.
Additional reporting by CNA