Chinese Tourist and Filipino Worker Kidnapped in Malaysia
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Unidentified gunmen kidnapped a Chinese tourist and a Filipino hotel worker, both women, from a beach resort on an island in Malaysian Borneo, Chinese and Malaysian authorities said Thursday, spurring an international manhunt for the assailants by law enforcement officials.
The abductions, which occurred late Wednesday, appeared to be the work of insurgents from the nearby islands of the southern Philippines who have been fighting the Filipino government for years, security experts said. The incident risked complicating the fraught relationship between China and Malaysia, which has suffered additional strain since the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
The women were snatched from the Singamata Reef Resort, a diving and snorkeling retreat built on stilts above a reef off Sabah, a state in eastern Malaysia.
这位女游客是在仙本那海上度假村(Singamata Reef Resort)中被绑架的，这是马来西亚东部沙巴州的一个用桩子建在岛礁之上的跳水和潜水度假村。
Chinese tourists at the resort told a Chinese newspaper, The Huaxi Metropolitan Daily, that they had heard gunshots as a group of gunmen stormed the hotel, grabbed the victims and spirited them away on speedboats. Photos posted on the newspaper’s website and reportedly taken during the attack show hotel guests crouching behind upturned tables. There were about 60 Chinese guests at the hotel at the time, the paper said.
Various armed groups, including Muslim separatist factions fighting to establish an independent state, operate throughout the southern Philippines and use kidnappings for ransom to help finance their operations. Some of these groups operate with near impunity in the Sulu Archipelago of the southern Philippines, close to eastern Malaysia.
While no group immediately claimed responsibility for the kidnappings, security experts said Abu Sayyaf, a particularly violent group that has in the past been linked to Al Qaeda, was probably responsible.
Mars S. Buan, senior analyst with Pacific Strategies and Assessments, a risk assessment firm based in Manila, said the kidnappers were believed to be operating under the command of Murphy Ladja, an insurgent in the Filipino province of Sulu, who was also implicated in the kidnapping of foreigners and resort workers in Sipadan, Malaysia, in 2000.
总部在马尼拉的风险评估事务所“太平洋战略与评估”(Pacific Strategies and Assessments)的高级分析师马尔斯·S·比昂 (Mars S. Buan)说，据认这次绑架是在菲律宾南部苏卢省的叛乱分子墨菲·拉贾(Murphy Ladja)指挥下进行的，他涉嫌曾在2000年在马来西亚西马丹绑架过外国人和酒店员工。
The Foreign Affairs Department of the Philippines said in a statement Thursday afternoon that the country’s maritime forces and anti-kidnapping teams were “actively and closely coordinating with their Malaysian counterparts in exchanging information and in working toward the speedy resolution of the case.”
菲律宾外交部(Foreign Affairs Department of the Philippines)周四下午在一份声明中表示，该国的海警以及反绑架队伍正在“积极、密切地与马来西亚的有关部门协调，以便交换信息，并为案件的迅速解决而努力。”
An employee at the hotel who answered the phone on Thursday confirmed the incident but declined to provide further information.
Kidnappings in the Muslim-dominated parts of southern Philippines, especially in the Sulu Archipelago, have sharply increased recently, Ms. Buan said. During the last two months, there were at least 10 kidnappings in Sulu and nearby areas in Mindanao, the southernmost major island of the Philippines. The victims included residents and tourists.
Kidnappings in Malaysia by Filipino armed groups are far less frequent, happening about once a year in recent years.
Though it is listed as a terrorist group by the United States and has in the past been linked to Al Qaeda, Abu Sayyaf is most often classified these days as a kidnap-for-ransom group and is thought to have fewer than 100 fighters. But its tendency to commit audacious acts of violence — such as beheadings, rapes and kidnappings — as well as its links to international terrorist organizations, has given it an outsize profile. The group has become the prime concern of the 500 or so American special forces soldiers stationed in Zamboanga City, who are serving as anti-terrorist advisers to Philippine forces.
In one recent kidnapping, Abu Sayyaf militants abducted a Taiwanese businesswoman from a resort in Semporna, Malaysia, last November. The militants shot and killed the woman’s husband after he tried to fight off the kidnappers, and the victim was released the following month.