The Full Story Behind Semporna Resort Kidnapping Of Two Foreign Women

A Chinese tourist and a Filipino resort worker were abducted by a group of armed gunmen on the night of 2 April 2014.

Cover image via The Star

Semporna Kidnapping: Chinese And Filipina Women Freed From Suspected Militants

Kidnapped Chinese woman and Filipina freed

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The Chinese woman and a Filipina who were kidnapped at the Singamata Adventures Reef and Resort in Semporna in early April have been released and are now in Sabah. Sabah police commissioner Hamza Taib said their release was as a result of cooperation between the Malaysian and Philippine police.

"Both of them arrived in Kota Kinabalu at 10.30am," he said. However he refused to disclose the present location of the victims. On April 2, a group of seven armed men had kidnapped Gao Hua Yan, 29, from Shanghai, and Marcy Dayawan, 40, an employee of the resort, at about 10.30pm.

The kidnappers were reported to have demanded ransom of RM36.4 million (US11 million) to release Gao. Following this, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had directed security in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esscom) to be tightened by adding additional assets.

Bernama had also reported that Sabah police had arrested four people including three women to assist in investigatigations. Two of the women were arrested at the resort while another woman and the man were held at a village in Semporna.

However, it was later learnt that the two released kidnap victims had arrived at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) from Sandakan at about 10.05pm, under strict security by plainclothes police. Journalists and photographers who gathered at the arrival hall only realised their presence when they got into three red cars which were waiting outside the airport building.

The press scrambled towards the cars but failed to get near the victims who were well-guarded and as soon as they got in, the vehicles shot off for an unknown destination. One of the victims was seen wearing a green blouse and a dark cap, with her hair let loose.

Mr Najib said arrangements would be made so the Chinese woman could return home as soon as possible

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Meanwhile, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was on his official visit to China, had informed the Chinese side of the release and said the victim would be escorted back to China soon. Najib said on his twitter account that there was no ransom paid to secure the two victims' release. The success was achieved due to the cooperation of the security forces of Malaysia and Philippines.

Kidnappers Want RM36.4 Million Ransom For The Release Of 29-Year-old Chinese Tourist

Home Minister Reveals Semporna Resort Kidnappers' Ransom Demand For Chinese Tourist

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Kidnappers have demanded 500 million pesos (RM36.4 million) for the release of a Chinese tourist whom they forcibly grabbed from a Sabah resort near Semporna last week, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi revealed today.

"We have received a note that the kidnappers have asked for 500mil pesos or RM36.4mil as ransom. We have sent our team to discuss with the so-called reported middle person," he told reporters here Thursday.

On April 2, Chinese tourist Gao Hua Yuan (pic), 29, and Filipina resort worker Marcy Darawan, 40, were abducted from the Singamata Reef Resort in Semporna by seven gunmen believed linked to the Abu Sayyaf militant group.

Image via The Star

“And we have send our team, the police and the negotiators to discuss through their so-called appointed middle person to negotiate about the reduction of ransoms,” he told reporters here after appearing on a television programme by broadcaster TV3.

Zahid said no demand for ransom was made for the Filipina resort worker, Marcy Dayawan.

Gao Hua Yuan, 29

Image via SCMP

7 April: Semporna Resort Kidnappers Trying To Enter Jolo Island In Southern Philippines

Members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) 52nd Special Action Company conducting a security check on motorists at a checkpoint in Indanan Village, Sulu province in the Southern Philippines

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A cat-and-mouse game is playing out between Philippine security forces and Abu Sayyaf-linked mercenaries holding two women hostages who are trying to slip into Jolo island

The gunmen, who abducted Chinese national Gao Huayun, 29, and Filipino resort worker Marcy Dayawan, 40, from Semporna on Wednesday, are holding out in Pandami island which is a four-hour boat ride to Abu Sayaff’s lair of Jolo in the southern Philippines.

Philippine National Police Sulu provincial chief Supt Abraham Orbita said they had received word that the gunmen and their captives had landed in Pandami island. “This appears to be quite credible. One of the gunmen is said to be a native of Pandami. We are verifying all this information,” he said.

Orbita said the gunmen were possibly facing difficulties in getting their captives into Jolo as Philippine security forces were keeping a close watch on entry points there. However, Philippine authorities expect the gunmen to continue trying to find their way into Jolo to send the two women to one of the many splinter Abu Sayyaf groups. If the gunmen are able to get their captives into Jolo, they are likely to begin making ransom demands known in about two weeks, going by previous kidnap cases in the southern Philippines.

Based on information from Philippine police, he said the kidnapping was carried out by mercenaries with Abu Sayyaf links. Philippine military has identified the group led by one Murphy Ambang Ladjia aka Haji Gulam, who is a former Moro National Liberation Front sub-commander who joined an Abu Sayyaf unit in Tawi Tawi’s Simunul area led by Binang Sahirol.

6 April: Semporna Resort Kidnappers Make First Phone Call To The Family Of Chinese Tourist

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A phone call has been made to the family of Chinese tourist Gao Huan Yuan who was kidnapped along with a Filipina from a water resort off Semporna. Director general Datuk Mohammad Mentek told New Straits Times that Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) was informed of the phone call.

"The call was made by a representative of the gunmen who informed the family that victims are safe. However, as far as I know no demand has been made," he said, adding investigation was being conducted by the police. Mohammad also said all security components in Esscom had discussed on the positioning of their vessel and boats particularly in Semporna waters.

4 April: Semporna Resort And Electrician Recall The Moment Armed Gunmen Kidnapped The Two Women

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Screams for help were heard as gunmen stormed an island resort in Sabah’s coastal paradise of Semporna, grabbing two women – a Chinese tourist and a Filipino resort worker – before escaping to the troubled southern Philippines islands.

An electrician at the resort, Man Lanji, 50, escaped by jumping into the sea as soon as three gunmen confronted him at the Dive Centre room where he was watching television and drinking coffee. Man jumped out of a window when the three, including one wearing a mask, ordered him to be silent and not move. From the water, he claimed he saw a boat with four more gunmen.

Resort cook Kalmin Hamid, who was sleeping at the workers’ dormitory, said she heard screams for help and sounds of people running on the verandah of the 40-room resort built on wooden stilts on a reef about 4km from Semporna town.

The surprise attack comes a day after the first anniversary of the setting up of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom), following the Kg Tanduo intrusion at Lahad Datu on Feb 12 last year.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib said the Chinese woman was on her phone and standing along the veranda outside her room when armed men who were escaping with Filipino staff, Marcy Dayawan @ Mimi, grabbed her. “On landing at the resort's rear entrance, the group entered the room of forty-year-old Mimi and grabbed her before fleeing.

“As they were running towards their boat, they grabbed Gao,'' he told reporters in Kota Kinabalu after checking out the crime scene at the resort in Semporna. He said four gunmen remained on the boat while three others went up into the 40-room stilt resort built on a reef at around 10.30pm on Wednesday. “I was told that the Chinese girl was screaming and saying in English ‘I don't want to go','' Hamza said, adding that there were no shots fired and no one was injured during the raid that lasted about 30 minutes.

3 April: Police Believe Seven Armed Gunmen Who Kidnapped Two Women At Semporna Could Have Had Inside Help

29-year-old Chinese national Gao Huayun was kidnapped from Singamata Reef Resort by armed gunmen.

Image via The Star

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman wants all available resources to be directed to the kidnapping of two women, a Chinese national and a Filipina, from a resort off Semporna. He said the police and the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) Datuk Mohammad Mentek has briefed him on the case. "I have directed the relevant authorities to gear up all efforts towards resolving this case," he said.

Police believe that kidnap-for-ransom groups based in southern Philippines are responsible for the abduction of two women - a Chinese tourist and a Filipino resort worker in Semporna.

Police also suspect that seven gunmen had “inside help'' to get into the resort, Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib said on Thursday, adding that “anyone wanting to enter the resort area needed to be brought or let in by a Singamata Reef Resort staff. Hamza said they had identified certain groups in their efforts to track down the gunmen in the hope of rescuing the two abducted women.

“It looks like kidnap-for-ransom groups (KFR) are behind this. The group that came in abducts the victims and then sells them to other groups,'' he said, adding that they were recording the statements of the 49 resort workers and 61 tourists (59 Chinese, one Iranian and one Malaysian) in their investigations. "No arrests have been made,'' he said, adding that they were only after people who could assist in their investigations.

Philippine Islamist Group Abu Sayyaf Believed To Be Behind Semporna Kidnapping

Philippine Islamist Group Abu Sayyaf Believed To Be Behind Semporna Kidnapping

Image via The Star

The attackers were believed to be from the Abu Sayyaf, a militant Philippine Muslim group that has carried out seaborne kidnappings for ransom in the region before, said a Philippine intelligence official who didn't give his name because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Citing Filipino military sources, the Philippines social news network said the 6 men were former members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction of Nur Misuari but had since joined Abu Sayyaf.

It said the two women are believed to have been brought to Bakong Island in Tawi-Tawi, in the southern Philippines, based on initial reports from the Philippine National Police.

Malaysian Security Forces Launch Massive Manhunt Along Philippine Sea Borders

The two women are believed to have been abducted to Tawi-Tawi

Image via Business Insider

Malaysian security forces have launched a massive hunt along the sea borders with southern Philippines for gunmen who grabbed two women - a tourist from China and a Filipino resort worker - from a resort off Semporna on Wednesday.

Security officials confirmed that they're checking all possible escape routes of the gunmen who snatched 29-year-old Gao Hua Yuan, 29, from Shanghai, China and Filipino resort worker Marcy Dayawan @ Mimi from the Singamata Reef Resort at around 10.30pm on Wednesday. Immediate cut off operations were launched by security forces with counterparts in southern Philippines also alerted.

Sources have told The Star that security forces on both sides of the border have, however, yet to receive word of any sightings of the group.

Philippine Maritime Security Works With Malaysian Forces To Intercept The Kidnappers

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.

Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, spokesperson of the military Western Mindanao Command, told the portal that government forces were deployed in possible entry points to intercept the kidnappers. “Our naval assets are now deployed in the area,” it quoted Muyuela as saying.

The Chinese consulate in Kuching has set up a 24-hour emergency hotline for those affected by Wednesday night's abduction of a two people from a resort off Semporna, Sabah. According to a Huaxi Metropolitan Daily report, the consulate was alerted by tourists at the resort with regard the kidnapping. The report said the consulate would work closely with the Malaysian Government to find out more about the incident.

2 April: Two Women, A Chinese And A Filipino, Have Been Abducted By Armed Gunmen From The Singamata Reef Resort In Semporna, Sabah

Two women, a Chinese national and a Filipino, were abducted from a resort located off Semporna last night, Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) director general Datuk Mohammad Mentek said. They were at the resort jetty when a group of men, including one who was armed with a pistol, landed and took them away at about 10.30pm.

Semporna is located in Sabah

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Approximately Six Unidentified Armed Gunmen Kidnapped The Two Women At 10.30pm On Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The Chinese woman, Gao Hua Yun from Shanghai, and the 40-year-old Filipino worker at the resort were snatched by as many as six unidentified gunmen at around 10.30pm Wednesday from the Singamata Reef Resort in Semporna.

The Resort Manager Said The Gunmen Attacked The Hotel And Left With The Victims By Boat

Singamata Reef Resort is located off the island

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The resort’s manager, who only wanted to be known as Vicky, said around five to six men attacked the hotel at around 10.30pm last night and left with the victims by boat.

Photos Showing Tourists Crouching Behind A Table At A Dining Area Surface On Social Media

Photos shared online show tourists crouching on the floor at a dining room and men in uniforms with rifles and bullet proof vests, possibly Malaysian security personnel

Image via Malaysiakini Facebook

Possibly a Malaysian security personnel at the resort

Image via Malaysiakini Facebook

The kidnapping of one Chinese tourist and a resort employee happened at around 10.30pm, 2 April 2014

Image via Malaysiakini Facebook

According To ESSCOM Director General, The Two Women Were At The Resort Jetty When They Were Snatched Away By The Gunmen

National news agency Bernama reported today that Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) — which was formed to beef up security on Sabah’s east coast — has confirmed the incident.

Citing Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) director general Mohammad Mentek, the New Straits Times said the victims — a Chinese national and a Filipino — were at the resort jetty when they were snatched by a group of men. One of the kidnappers was armed with a pistol.

The report said, the jetty was the furthest point from the resort, which is built on stilts in shallow waters, located less than 30 minutes by boat from Semporna town.

However, The Star Reports That 29-Year-Old Tourist Gao Huayun From Shanghai Was Taking A Bath In Her Room When The Gunmen Forced Her Out Into A Boat

Singamata Reef Resort

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South China Morning Post identified the Chinese victim as Gao Huayun, a 29-year-old female tourist from Shanghai who was vacationing with several friends at the resort.

Details remain sketchy, though it is believed that tourist was taking a bath in her room when the gunmen forced her out into a boat.

The 40-Year-Old Filipino Marcy Dayawan Works At The Resort

The Star: It is as yet unclear clear where the resort worker was when she was abducted.

Hotel Management Ordered All Guests Out Of Their Room For A Roll Call After Police Arrived Minutes After The Gunmen Escaped

Citing Vicky, the newspaper said all 61 hotel guests left the resort this morning, but that ten tourists who arrived today have decided to stay. Fifty-nine of the 61 guests were from China.

The tourist only came to know of it when the management ordered all guest out of their rooms after police arrived minutes after the gunmen fled with their captives. “A roll call was done and it was only then did they realise the tourist and a resort worker were missing,” he reported.

One of the tourists at the resort, a newspaper journalist from China, reported that many of the holidaymakers were in their rooms at various parts of the resort when the incident occurred.

On 15 November 2013, A Taiwanese Man Was Shot Dead While His Wife Was Kidnapped By Militant Abu Sayyaf-linked Gunmen In Pulau Pom Pom, Semporna

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