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Shanghai tourist kidnapped from eastern Malaysia

SUSPECTED Filipino insurgents seized a female Shanghai tourist and a local hotel worker from a dive resort in eastern Malaysia and then fled by speed boat, Malaysian and Philippine officials said Thursday.

The incident took place late Wednesday in the Semporna district of Sabah state, which is on the Malaysian side of Borneo island.

The female tourist's father had made a call this morning to a live program on Shanghai's East Radio Station to seek help, Shanghai local media reported.

Chinese consulate general in Kuching confirmed the kidnap case this morning.

Gao Huayun, 29, from Shanghai, who was holidaying with about 60 other tourists from China, is believed to have been abducted from her room and forced into a boat, according to The Star newspaper.

The 40-year-old Filipino resort worker was not named and it is unclear how she was taken.

The paper said the women were discovered missing after the resort, which is built on stilts near the town of Semporna, ordered a roll call as police arrived minutes after the gunmen had fled.

Resort staff could not immediately be reached for further comment, while Sabah police chief Hamza Taib said he was on his way to Semporna and would have more details later.

The raid underlines persistent security threats in Sabah, a popular tourist destination and dive spot that is a short boat ride from the southern Philippines, where Muslim militants and kidnap gangs have long found safe haven, Associated Press reported.

Last November, suspected Abu Sayyaf militants shot and killed a Taiwanese tourist and kidnapped his wife from a resort in the Semporna area. The women was released a month later in the southern Philippines. Authorities didn't say whether a ransom was paid. Such deals are normally not immediately disclosed to the media, if at all, Associated Press reported.

In 2000, Abu Sayyaf gunmen crossed the porous maritime border with Malaysia in speedboats and snatched 21 European tourists and Malaysian and Filipino workers from Malaysia's Sipadan diving resort and brought them to the southern Philippines, where the captives were later released in exchange for ransom, Associated Press reported.


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