The gunmen who raided a Malaysian resort and abducted a Chinese woman and a hotel worker may have had help from hotel staff, police have revealed.
“Anyone wanting to enter the resort area needed to be brought or let in by [hotel] staff,” Police Commissioner Hamza Taib said at at a press conference in Kota Kinabalu, after visiting the Sabah resort targeted by the gunmen on Wednesday night.
Armed men snatched the Chinese national and a hotel worker from the Singamata Reef Resort at around 10.30pm on Wednesday.
Gao Gao, from Shanghai, and 40-year-old Filipino receptionist Marcy Dayawan were forced onto a boat and taken to an unknown location.
Malaysian police said they believed the gunmen to be a kidnap-for-ransom group from the Philippines' restive Sulu archipelago.
Police provided new details of the raid that turned a picturesque vacation into a nightmare. Three men armed with M14 automatic rifles stormed the resort, while four men did not leave the boat.
The three first grabbed Dayawan from her room and on their way back to the boat seized Gao, who had only arrived at the resort the previous day.
Gao screamed at them “I don’t want to go” in English, according to the police account of the kidnap, reported by Malaysian newspaper The Star .
No shots were fired in the raid, police said. Media reports in China citing eyewitness accounts said shots had been heard by some guests.
It is unclear whether a ransom demand has already been made.
The raid comes six months after a Taiwanese tourist was shot dead by gunmen in a similar raid. His wife was kidnapped and later released in the Philippines.
Kidnap gangs are holding more than a dozen captives in the southern Philippines, including two European bird watchers who were seized from the Philippines’ Tawi-Tawi province in 2012.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters that the safety of the two hostages was a priority in the rescue efforts, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting with Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Perth.
Philippine maritime security units and anti-kidnapping operatives were working with Malaysian authorities to achieve a “speedy resolution of the case,” the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
In a regular press conference on Thursday, Hong Lei, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry, called on Malaysian authorities to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens.