Malaysian police have linked the murder of a Taiwanese tourist and the kidnapping of his wife to the Philippines’ Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic terrorist group with links to Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda.
Heavily armed gunmen shot 57-year-old Hsu Li-min and kidnapped his wife, 58-year-old Chang An-wei, early Friday morning on Pom Pom Island in Sabah.
The incident occurred in a remote part of Malaysia that was rocked by a bloody Philippine militant incursion earlier this year.
Police chief Khalid Abu Baker said the attack was suspected to be the work of Abu Sayyaf, and eight gunmen were believed to be involved, according to reports.
“We believe the terrorists were able to slip in because there has been a big mobilization 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 said.
Malaysian authorities said the kidnapped woman is likely still alive, but her captors may have taken her to an island off the Philippines.
Police have launched a massive sea and air hunt for the gunmen with help from Philippine authorities.
Abu Sayyaf was funded by Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, and has targeted foreigners with kidnappings for ransom and has been accused of many of the Philippines’ deadliest attacks by militants.
The southern Philippines is a short boat ride away from the east coast of Sabah.