KOTA KINABALU - Police are hot on the heels of a group of armed gunmen who abducted nine fishermen from Semporna before releasing them several hours later.
Sabah police commissioner, Datuk Hamza Taib said a massive search has been mounted by the Marine Police, the Police Field Force and the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency.
He said the police were also trying to determine where the gunmen came from.
In the incident near Pulau Mabul, off Semporna in Sabah's east coast, a fisherman was hauling in his catch when the gunmen in a speedboat ordered him to board their vessel at about 6.30pm on Tuesday.
Garbed in dark clothes and armed with shotguns and pistols, the gunmen numbering about 20 told the fisherman to guide them towards Pulau Mabul, which is home to several resorts.
On approaching the island, the gunmen spotted some red lights on the shore and the fisherman told them those might indicate the location of a resort.
As they got close, however, the gunmen realised it was a military camp and quickly turned their vessel towards Filipino waters.
The gunmen later spotted another fishing boat with eight men on board, and abducted them too.