SEMPORNA, Malaysia - Police believe that the group that abducted two people in Semporna had inside help.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib said anyone wanting to enter the resort area had to be brought in or let in by a staff member of Singamata Reef Resort.
The gunmen also appeared to have been familiar with the area and the operations of security forces there.
Apart from landing at the quiet end of the seven-building L-shaped resort, the gunmen chose a time when police personnel would usually go out in their boats to patrol the area, resort director Tong Goh Kung said.
Tong said some of his staff jumped into the sea after they noticed the armed men.
"The whole thing lasted about three to five minutes only," he said after briefing state Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Pang Yuk Ming. Pang was accompanied by an officer from the China Consulate He Yii Fanto.
Comm Hamza said police were tracking down the seven gunmen.
"It looks like kidnap-for-ransom groups are behind this. One group abducts the victims and then sells them to other groups," he said, adding that police were recording the statements of the 49 resort workers and 61 tourists (59 Chinese, one Iranian and one Malaysian).
Police believe that Chinese tourist Gao Huayun - who arrived at the Singamata Reef Resort with a friend on April 2 for a diving course - might have been randomly picked by the gunmen.
The gunmen also escaped with Filipino Marcy Dayawan @ Mimi.
On landing at the resort's rear entrance, the group entered Mimi's room and grabbed her before fleeing during the 10.30pm incident on Wednesday.
"As they were running towards their boat, they grabbed Gao,'' Comm Hamza told reporters in Kota Kinabalu.
"I was told the Chinese girl was screaming and saying in English 'I don't want to go','' Comm Hamza said, adding that no shot was fired.
However, a Chinese daily reporter, claimed that he heard gunshots during the incident.