Gunmen kill policeman, kidnap another during attack on Malaysian diving resort
Agence France-Presse in Kuala Lumpur
A policeman was killed and a second kidnapped after heavily armed gunmen opened fire at a Malaysian diving resort off Borneo island, a security official said yesterday.
The shooting on Mabul island is the latest in a spate of abductions in Malaysia's remote Sabah state, home to some of the world's top diving sites, with travel agents saying the violence has already hurt visits to the area.
One security official said the gunmen are believed to be from the Philippines' Sulu islands.
Describing the incident that happened late on Saturday, Abdul Rashid said a police outpost guarding a resort in Mabul island was ambushed by six to eight masked gunmen wearing black T-shirts and military trousers.
"The group of heavily armed gunmen shot and killed a 32-year-old policeman and kidnapped another officer. They escaped in a boat into neighbouring waters. We have launched a security operation to track down the criminals," he said.
Tan Kok Liang, vice-president of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents for inbound tourism, said the latest incident was a "blatant challenge" to Malaysia's security.
He there had already been a 10 per cent drop in tourist arrivals in the second quarter compared with the first three months of the year.
Sabah has about 3.5 million tourist arrivals annually, including visitors from China, Japan, South Korea, Britain and Europe.
The kidnapping of the policeman is the fourth incident of its kind in Sabah since April.
In June, a 32-year-old Malaysian fish breeder and his Filipino worker were seized by Filipino gunmen from their farm. They have not yet been freed.
In May a Chinese fish farm manager was abducted from his farm, while in April a female Chinese tourist and a Filipino resort worker were abducted. All three have been released.