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Suspected Filipinos seize Chinese man in Malaysia

May 6, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A Chinese fish farm manager in eastern Malaysia was kidnapped by gunmen early Tuesday and believed taken to the southern Philippines, where suspected insurgents are holding another Chinese and a Filipino also seized from Malaysia.

It was the second kidnapping in Malaysia’s Sabah state on Borneo island in a month, prompting the state government to announce a curfew and travel restrictions in high-risk areas.

Mohamad Bakri Zinin, Malaysia’s national deputy police chief, said five men clad in military fatigues entered the fish farm before dawn and kidnapped Yang Zailin, 34.

He said two of the men were believed armed with M16 rifles. Police pursued the kidnappers who fled on boat and exchanged fire at a nearby island, he said.

“However, they managed to escape and were headed to a neighboring country,” Bakri said in a statement. Police have detained 19 workers at the fish farm for investigation, officials said.

A Philippine security official, who declined to be named as he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media, said Yang was believed to have been taken to the Mindanao region in the southern Philippines.

China’s Xinhua News Agency said that Beijing had urged Malaysia to speed up efforts to rescue him.

The spate of kidnappings underline persistent security threats in Sabah, a popular tourist destination and dive spot that is a short boat ride from the southern Philippines, where Muslim militants and kidnap gangs have long found safe haven.

Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman said “drastic measures” were needed to ensure public safety including requiring police permission to enter certain areas.

He also said a curfew will be implemented in parts of the state and sea lanes will be designated for ships and boats in high-risk areas, he said in a statement. Police will give details on those measures later, he added.

Last month, Abu Sayyaf militants seized a 28-year-old Shanghai woman and a 40-year-old Filipino hotel receptionist from the Singamata Reef Resort and took them by motor boat to their jungle stronghold in the predominantly Muslim province of Sulu, Philippine security officials said.

Last November, suspected Filipino militants shot and killed a Taiwanese tourist and kidnapped his wife from a resort in Sabah. The woman was released a month later. Authorities didn’t say whether a ransom was paid, as is usually the case.

Filipino militants are still holding more than a dozen captives, the others seized in the Philippines.

The Abu Sayyaf had links to international terrorist networks, including al-Qaida, but a U.S.-backed Philippine military crackdown has weakened it considerably in recent years. The group has about 300 fighters and now is focused on ransom kidnappings much more than global jihad.


Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.

Update hourly