Malaysian police said yesterday a terrorist group from the Philippines was believed to be behind the killing of a Taiwanese tourist and the kidnapping of his wife.
Gunmen shot dead Hsu Li-min, 57, and kidnapped his wife Chang An-wei, 56, early on Friday on Pom Pom Island, a popular scuba-diving location in the eastern state of Sabah.
The incident - in a remote part that was rocked earlier this year by a bloody incursion by Filipino militants - has underlined continued threats in the region despite a Malaysian security clampdown.
Police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said the Islamist extremist group Abu Sayyaf was suspected to be behind the attack.
"We believe the terrorists were able to slip in because there has been a big mobilisation 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 that the attackers were believed to have come in a group of eight in a speedboat.
Authorities were still trying to find the kidnapped woman with help from their Philippine counterparts, he said.
Abu Sayyaf has targeted foreigners with kidnappings for ransom and has been accused of most of the Philippines' deadliest insurgent attacks.
More than 200 heavily armed fighters landed by boat along the same stretch in February in a bizarre bid to support a self-proclaimed Philippine sultan who had staked a claim to the area.
After a nearly month-long stand-off, Malaysian armed forces moved in to clear out the guerillas, leaving dozens dead. Their leader died last month at the age of 75.